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Dr. Coburn Disappointed Senate Playing Politics with Kids' Health

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Coburn Disappointed Senate Playing Politics with Kids' Health

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician, released the following statement today after voting against a bill, H.R. 3963, that fails to insure poor children first.

"This vote shows that the S-CHIP debate is about the politicians, not the kids. Congress could have easily sent President Bush a compromise bill he would have signed. Unfortunately, too many politicians seem to be concerned that settling this dispute will contradict 30-second attack ads that depict one party as being on a mission to take health care away from children. What Washington politicians don't understand is that building a political war room underneath uninsured children harms the integrity of Congress more than either party. We were elected to solve problems, not use difficult issues to raise campaign funds," said Dr. Coburn, a practicing physician who provides free health care to children and other citizens in his hometown of Muskogee, OK.

"In recent weeks, Congress' actions in this debate have revealed its true motives. Last week, the House rushed through a ‘new and improved' S-CHIP bill that insured 400,000 fewer kids at an additional cost of $500 million. In the previous week, I invited my colleagues to prioritize securing health insurance for kids ahead of funding for their own special interest pork-barrel projects. According to the Washington Post, the final tally was ‘Pet Projects 68, Kids 26,'" Dr. Coburn said.

"Instead of setting aside money for pork in a reserve fund that could be used for something more important, like health insurance for children, the Senate went ahead and protected, among hundreds of projects, $130,000 for the National First Ladies' Library in Ohio, $500,000 for a ‘Virtual Herbarium' in New York and $50,000 for an ice center in Utah. Are we to believe the uninsured would rather go ice skating or tour a First Ladies' Library than have health care?" Dr. Coburn asked.

"Today, the Senate refused to even debate an amendment I offered that would have redirected funding for all congressional earmarks funded through the Department of Health and Human Services into the S-CHIP program," Dr. Coburn said, adding that in the state of Iowa, the cost of earmarks in the Labor-HHS-Education bill - $157.4 million - could buy health insurance for each of the state's 43,783 uninsured kids.

"I will support a bill that will expand coverage for poor children. However, if Congress wants to fundamentally change and expand the nature of S-CHIP, we need to be honest with the American people. To pay for this bill, we'd need to recruit 22 million new smokers at a time when we're debating how to decrease the number of smokers in America. We are also proposing in this bill to spend $4,000 of taxpayer funds to pay for $2,300 worth of care," Dr. Coburn said.

Dr. Coburn has proposed providing every American family a $5,000 tax credit to purchase the health insurance of their choice within his comprehensive health care reform bill, "The Universal Health Care Choice and Access Act," S. 1019. The bill lets individuals, not government bureaucracies, take charge of their own health care dollars and decisions.

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