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Ceci Connolly writes in The Washington Post: "The Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation yesterday to provide health insurance to 11 million low-income children, a bill that would for the first time spend federal money to cover children and pregnant women who are legal immigrants.

"The State Children's Health Insurance Program, which is aimed at families earning too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance, currently covers close to 7 million youngsters at a cost of $25 billion.

"Lawmakers voted 66 to 32, largely along party lines, to renew the joint state-federal program and spend an additional $32.8 billion to expand coverage to 4 million more children. The expansion would be paid for by raising the cigarette tax from 39 cents a pack to $1.

"The House approved similar legislation on Jan. 14, and President Obama is expected to sign a final version as early as next week."

Obama issued a statement about the bill this morning: "Providing health care to more than ten million children through the Children's Health Insurance Program will serve as a down payment on my commitment to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care."

Speaking of that commitment, Paul Krugman writes in his New York Times opinion column: "The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe — in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care.

"Which raises a question: Why has the Obama administration been silent, at least so far, about one of President Obama’s key promises during last year’s campaign — the promise of guaranteed health care for all Americans?...

"There’s a populist rage building in this country, as Americans see bankers getting huge bailouts while ordinary citizens suffer.

"I agree with administration officials who argue that these financial bailouts are necessary (though I have problems with the specifics). But I also agree with Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who argues that — as a matter of political necessity as well as social justice — aid to bankers has to be linked to a strengthening of the social safety net, so that Americans can see that the government is ready to help everyone, not just the rich and powerful."

By Dan Froomkin  |  January 30, 2009; 1:39 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care  
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Next: Labor Day at the White House


I hope the push for single payer universal health care gathers steam and forces Obama's administration to address it.

We're gonna spent boatloads of money propping up the economy anyway, so why not do something that will stimulate the economy and create jobs immediately. Jobs that can't be shipped overseas, by the way.

In addition, it would take a huge burden off the auto companies who will be back in March for more cash anyway, and help small businesses grow by freeing up otherwise entrepreneurial people from jobs they are now tied to just because of the health care benefits.

Since small business has been the primary engine of job growth in our economy for at least the last 20 years, this would have a tremendous multiplier effect vs. dollars spent, not to mention the immediate boost to consumer confidence when the burden of health care bills off of our backs.

The time has long past to decouple health care from employment. Now, it's the smart economic thing to do as well.

Here's hoping Pres. Obama's administration has the political courage necessary to get it done.

Posted by: STTPinOhio | January 30, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this the same children's health insurance program that President Torquemada vetoed because it was against his 'philosophy'?

Posted by: ruinedbruin | January 30, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I have a lot of respect for Krugman, but his impatience is getting a bit tiresome. Obviously dealing with the massive problems Bush left behind is time-consuming and complicated. Krugman also ignores the fact that right now President Obama is focused on the stimulus package.

Nor does he credit Obama for issuing orders to close Guantanamo and the CIA's black sites, banning torture, tackling financial regulations, granting habeas corpus and giving the ICRC access to the detainees, ordering the military to start planning troop reductions in Iraq, forging ahead on the Peace Process, putting a halt on Bush's regulations pending review, over-turning Bush's orders on access to WH records and a whole host of other issues while dealing with the economic disaster. Those are stellar accomplishments that deserve accolades.

Apparently a majority of Americans are willing to exercise a modicum of patience. Krugman would be wise to follow suit or at the very least wait until the stimulus package has been passed.

To date Obama has kept true to his word, so there is no reason to believe he'll do otherwise. Give him some time. After all President Obama has only been in office 10 days.

Posted by: serena1313 | January 30, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I applaud Krugman's "impatience". I call it courageous fortitude. If you've won a Nobel Prize its important to use the clout that comes with it to push intelligent policy change. As for waiting, we've been waiting for decent health care since before Clinton tried and failed in 1993. Nows the time to do it whilst Obama's approval ratings are high. I do't doubt Obama's word. But it helps to keep the focus. Currently health insurance is costing me $1200 a month.

Posted by: mickster1 | January 30, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

We know that under the Bush Administration, the intelligence agencies and investigating agencies apparently shared the Presidents IQ. Obama professed change, and that is exactly what we need to see. The problem is, this administration is getting larger and larger, and there is no point. I'm tired of hearing all of the Obamaholics being SO patient and faithful. If you give any President slack, they regularly fail to keep promises.

Stimulus could have had a program for standard healthcare... Even if just for kids, so that every school works with the University for medical tests.. Free Healthcare for kids via school nurse, county/district doctors. On top of that, teachers healthcare costs reduced because they can use the school doctors etc.

It's relatively simple to come up with a descent idea. Why the stimulus is full of crap is anyones guess. Oh... Pelosi. Can we ask her to leave?

Posted by: TritiumAE | January 31, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

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