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Doing What's Right For Montana's Children

by Sen. Max Baucus
| September 12, 2007 12:00 AM

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was teaching to thousands, and when the children of the village approached him, he welcomed them with open arms. Jesus knew that caring for children was one of our highest callings, and that principle holds as true today as it did back then.

As Montanans, and Americans, one of our greatest responsibilities, and privileges, is to give our children a better life than we had. From sporting events, to vacations, to graduations, even first dates, watching your children grow up is the greatest, and at times scariest, experience in life. And as a parent there is nothing worse than seeing your children in pain. When they peek over the bed late at night, with tear-filled eyes, all you want to do is wrap them up and make everything better. Unfortunately sometimes vanilla ice cream and Happy Feet aren't enough to ease the pain.

That's why as a Senator, and Chairman of the Finance Committee, as a Montanan, and American, as a father, and most importantly, a human being, I've made renewing and covering more kids under the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, my top health care priority.

CHIP is a program that I helped create a decade ago that provides health insurance to children from low-income families. This is a program that truly represents the best of us. It's a program that helps Johhnys and Susies grow up to be healthy adults. It's a program that helps parents sleep a little better knowing that one accident won't drive them into bankruptcy. And it's a program that I'm committed to working for.

I'm extremely proud that the Senate recently passed my bill to provide $35 billion for the CHIP program over the next five years. What does $35 billion mean? It means that an additional 3.2 million children across the country, and up to 12,000 kids in Montana, will get the health care they need and deserve. From accidents to illnesses, from check-ups to immunizations, these dollars will give millions of kids the building blocks they need to lead a healthy, successful life, and that is the greatest investment I can think of.

Some say $35 billion is too much to spend on CHIP. But my question is, when talking about children, when talking about life and death, how can anyone in good conscience say it is too much? If a child was starving, wouldn't we feed them? If a child was in danger, wouldn't we protect them? So, if children are potentially dying, how can we not step up and save them?

CHIP also makes sense as an investment. The better the health care we provide to our kids, the lower health care costs will be for everyone else. It's that simple.

I'll admit I was a little surprised to learn that the White House threatened to veto my bill. I pride myself on working together with both sides of the isle to do what's right. But let me be crystal clear, if this bill is vetoed, I will stand firm and work with my colleagues to override a veto. Health care for kid is just too important. This isn't an issue of politics, this is an issue of humanity.