Congress tries to expand child health care insurance program

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(Host) Congress is trying to extend – and expand – a children’s health insurance program before leaving Washington for a month-long vacation.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders serves on the committee that drafted a 35 billion dollar expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

He says the bill would provide medical coverage to more than three million children who don’t have it now.

But he says he’d ultimately like to see a broader expansion because the bill would still leave nine million children without insurance.

(Sanders) "To my view we should be covering every child in America with health insurance. But, having said that, this is a step forward."

(Host) The federal program is a decade old and is modeled after Vermont’s Doctor Dynasaur, which seeks to make sure every child in the state has health insurance.

Sanders rejects arguments from some opponents, who say both the Vermont and the federal programs give coverage to families who could afford their own insurance.

(Sanders) "My experience going around the state, talking to a whole lot of people, is virtually all the parents in the state of Vermont who are in the Dr. Dynasaur program think that it is a very, very good program and would fight vigorously to keep it."

(Host) The House wants to expand the children’s insurance program even more dramatically. Today, the House voted for a $50 billion expansion of the program.

The vote was largely along party lines. Vermont Congressman Peter Welch, a Democrat, voted for the bill.

President Bush says he doesn’t like either version and he’d veto both. But Sanders says he thinks there might be enough Republican support in the Senate to overturn a veto.

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