Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=62537
Story Retrieval Date: 5/20/2013 1:23:26 AM CST
WASHINGTON -- With President Bush promising to veto the newly passed children’s health insurance legislation, more than a half dozen protests are planned around Washington this week.
On Monday, dozens of children pulled red wagons to the White House to deliver overflowing purple bags filled with petitions urging Bush to sign the bill into law.
The bill renewing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives last week. The $60 billion bill would give states an increase of $35 billion for the program to provide health care coverage to low-income children during the next five years, a number that Bush has said is too high. Critics of the bill have cited cost, added competition to private insurance companies and the possibility that it could be the first step toward socialized medicine.
But James Salt, the Catholics United organizing director, said the legislation is about helping children.
“When kids have health care, all of us are better off,” he said. “By vetoing health care for poor kids and low-income children, it’s a slap in the face. Bush no longer has a claim to compassion.”
Hannah Asher, a 13-year-old from Bethesda, Md., also came out to take a stand.
“It was a good cause to help all of these kids because I know there are a lot of unfortunate kids out there who can’t go to the doctor when they’re sick or go to the dentist when they have a tooth ache,” Hannah said. “If this is vetoed, millions of kids will die because they don’t have health insurance.”
Her brother, 8-year-old Jacob, said the president is at a crossroads.
“If the president doesn’t veto this and he makes this law, this could make him history,” he said.
Many parents accompanied their children in chanting, "Sign this bill," in front of the White House gates.
"It’s important that kids have health care," said District of Columbia resident Laura Elkins, a mother of a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old.
“I know a lot of kids who don’t necessarily have health care,” Elkins said. “If we’re not going to take care of them, what do we have?”
While the White House did not permit the children to deliver the petitions and threatened to arrest the protesters for littering, Elkins said the president makes a statement if he vetoes the bill.
“I think he sends a message that he doesn’t care about kids.”