John Edwards photo

Edwards Campaign Press Release - On Day Four Of "Fighting For One America" Tour, Edwards Calls For Major Expansion Of Children's Health Insurance

August 16, 2007

Calls for expansion as an immediate step toward universal health care

Names Iowa Children and Youth Cabinet

Grundy Center, Ames, Des Moines, Oskaloosa and Ottumwa, Iowa – On the fourth day of Senator John Edwards' "Fighting for One America" tour, Edwards called for a major expansion of children's health insurance as an immediate step toward universal health care. Edwards also unveiled his Iowa Children and Youth Cabinet, a wide-ranging group of Iowans with first hand knowledge of the issues facing young people today. The group consists of 31 children's advocates, community leaders, teachers and parents from across the state who will advise Edwards and his campaign on children's policy.

Both houses of Congress have passed bills to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover an additional four to five million children. There are currently nine million children in America without health insurance—51,000 of whom live in Iowa — yet President Bush has threatened to veto the expansion. Edwards, who was the first presidential candidate to propose a truly universal health care plan, is urging Republicans in Congress to stand with Democrats and override that veto if necessary, and put the health of America's children ahead of insurance company profits.

"George Bush cites philosophical concerns about expanding children's health insurance," Edwards said. "In reality, his philosophy is denying nine million kids health insurance. While we cannot be satisfied until every man, woman and child in America is covered by a truly universal health care plan, this bill is a step in the right direction and is action that can be taken today. I hope for the sake of our children that George Bush stops siding with insurance companies over kids and withdraws his threat to veto the expansion of health care for kids. And if he does veto kids' health care, I hope every member of Congress – Republican, Democrat or Independent – will stand up for our children and override the veto. Our kids deserve nothing less."

Expanding SCHIP is one of the cornerstones of Edwards' plan to cover every single man, woman and child in America. Under the Edwards health care plan, every American will enjoy true universal coverage, the choice of a public plan, reduced costs, and higher-quality health care.

Edwards is leading the issues debate and providing strong, substantive proposals that have shaped the discussion in the Democratic presidential campaign. The Iowa Cabinet on Children and Youth he named today consists of widely respected Iowa leaders, advocates for children, parents and teachers, and will help him continue to expand on his ideas for protecting and investing in the next generation of Americans.

A detailed fact sheet on Edwards' plan to expand children's health insurance and guarantee health care for all Americans is below.

The Edwards campaign has also launched a blog on its Iowa webpage featuring updates, photos, and video about the seven-day "Fighting for One America" bus tour. To follow along with the trip, Iowans are invited visit

Iowa Cabinet on Children and Youth

  • Beth Walling, State and Federal Early Childhood Expert, Des Moines, Polk County
  • Mary Edwards, Smart Middle School Librarian, Davenport, Scott County
  • Richard Christensen, Teacher, Russell, Lucas County
  • Louisa Dykstra, Mother of Two, Des Moines, Polk County
  • Beth Junk, Registered Nurse at Child Surf, Special Needs Childcare, Gilbert, Story County
  • Mike McMahon, Teacher, Manchester, Delaware County
  • Jill Neuzil, 1st and 2nd Grade Teacher, Iowa City, Johnson County
  • Jack Deniston, Foster Parent and Former Principal, Davenport, Scott County
  • John Calhoun, Former Juvenile Court Officer and Former Empowerment Director for Siouxland Human Investment Partnership, Polk City, Polk County
  • Chris Sauer, Youth Soccer Coach, Colesburg, Delaware County
  • Joe Tollari, Retired Teacher, Dubuque, Dubuque County
  • Fran Deniston, Foster Parent, Davenport, Scott County
  • Connie Cornett, Home Healthcare Nurse, Centerville, Appanoose County
  • Joann Crouch, Former Teacher, Fairfield, Jefferson County
  • Steve Diaz, Social Worker, Ottumwa, Wapello County
  • Ronald Egger, Football Coach, Davenport, Scott County
  • Jacqueline Findlay, Retired Social Worker, Former Director, Informational Referral and Assistance Services, Clinton, Clinton County
  • Robert Sunderbrunch, Former Muscatine-Louisa School Board Director, Muscatine, Muscatine County
  • Tim Leonard, Family Services Coordinator, Youth Shelter Care of North Central Iowa, Fort Dodge, Webster County
  • Robert McCurdy, Superintendent of Russell Community Schools, Russell, Lucas County
  • Barb Zabel, Pre-School Teacher, Humboldt, Humboldt County
  • Marilyn Brubaker, Retired Teacher, Paullina, O'Brien County
  • Jackie Champion, Mother of Five, Walnut, Sac County
  • Mike Earll, FFA Advisor, Sibley High School Agricultural Educational Department, Bigelow, Osceola County
  • Allen Chapman, Music Teacher, Fort Madison, Lee County
  • Dianna Pilla, Former Art Teacher, Davenport, Scott County
  • Marjorie Everts, Retired Teacher, Lytton, Calhoun County
  • Greg Stevens, Speech and Debate Coach, Milford, Dickinson County
  • Anne Travis, ISEA Executive Board Member, Sidney, Fremont County
  • Sheila Hansen, Shiela Hansen, Past Executive Director, Iowa Head Start Association, Fort Dodge, Webster County
  • Kathy Yoke, Early Childhood Special Education Advocate, Davenport, Scott County

Standing With Kids, Not Insurance Companies

"George Bush says he has a 'philosophical' problem with expanding children's health insurance. With his philosophy, nearly 9 million kids lack health insurance. We need to put our children ahead of insurance company profits." – John Edwards

Almost 9 million American children lack health insurance – and 51,000 of them live in Iowa. Congress is now reconciling two different bills that would expand the successful State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover 4 to 5 million additional children from low-income families. Today, John Edwards called on George Bush to stop siding with insurance companies over kids and withdraw his threat to veto the expansion of health care for kids.

  • Bush Says He Will Veto Health Insurance for Kids: SCHIP is a joint federal/state program that provides health care for low-income children whose families are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. However, it has not been funded at levels that would cover all eligible children. President Bush has threatened to veto any legislation that expands SCHIP to cover more children. He says he has a "philosophical" preference for tax breaks that benefit insurance companies more than low-income families – families who generally can't afford health insurance today with or without tax deductions. An M.I.T. analysis of Bush's plan for new tax breaks found that they would actually increase (not decrease) the number of uninsured Americans because employers would tend to drop coverage. [White House, 7/18/07; CPPP, 2007]
  • The Insurance Industry Is Helping Lead the Fight Against SCHIP: Not surprisingly, private health insurance companies have been leaders in the fight against the legislation that would expand health care for kids. [AARP, 2007]
  • The Bush Administration Has Misled the Public About SCHIP: Administration officials have wrongly asserted that only 1.7 million children are uninsured and eligible for coverage under the proposed legislation. In fact, 6.1 million children are eligible for SCHIP or Medicaid – many of whom could obtain coverage under the proposed expansion. And although the Bush administration has criticized SCHIP as "government-owned" health care, in fact, private doctors and plans deliver care under the program. [CBPP, 2007; CAP, 2007]

Expanding a Successful Program

Medicaid and SCHIP play essential roles in helping low-income Americans get the health care they need.

  • SCHIP Has Been an Unusual Success: SCHIP was enacted by Congress in 1997 to increase health insurance coverage for low-income children (who did not already qualify for Medicaid). Approximately 6.6 million children are now covered through state programs that are funded jointly by the federal government through SCHIP and the states.
  • Iowa's hawk-i Program Now Covers Tens of Thousands of Children: Iowa uses its share of federal S-CHIP funds to operate a program called "hawk-i" that provides health coverage for more than 30,000 kids. [Iowa Fiscal Partnership, 2007]
  • SCHIP Is Now at Risk: The SCHIP program expires on September 30, 2007. As is, the program faces significant shortfalls. Iowa is projected to be at least $16 million short this year to sustain current levels of coverage. If the program is not reauthorized by September 30, Iowa will be forced to cut benefits, cut the number of children participating or spend more state funds to continue the program. [Iowa Fiscal Partnership, 2007]
  • Renewal is Pending in Congress: The House and the Senate have passed different bills renewing and expanding SCHIP to cover an additional 4 to 5 million children. Once they pass a single reconciled bill, it will go President Bush's desk. Most Democrats and some Republicans in Congress want to renew and expand the program to cover an additional 4 to 5 million children. About two-thirds of the 51,000 uninsured Iowa children are eligible for either Medicaid or hawk-i. Tens of thousands of these children would gain coverage under the increased funding provided by the House or Senate bill. [Families USA, 2007]

A Down Payment on True Universal Health Care Tomorrow

John Edwards was the first presidential candidate to propose a detailed plan for true universal health care that offers every American the option of a public plan. Expanding SCHIP is one of the cornerstones of Edwards' plan to cover single American man, woman and child. As president, he will strengthen the federal partnership with states supporting these programs, committing the federal resources necessary to allow states to expand Medicaid and SCHIP to serve all adults under the poverty line and all children and parents under 250 percent of the poverty line (about $50,000 for a family of four).

Under the Edwards plan, Americans will enjoy:

  • True Universal Coverage: Every last person in America will get coverage.
  • Choice of a Public Plan: Families will have the option of choosing a public health care plan.
  • Reduced Costs: The average family would save $2,000 to $2,500 a year.
  • Higher Quality: Americans will be covered for preventive care, chronic care and mental health – with no more exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

John Edwards, Edwards Campaign Press Release - On Day Four Of "Fighting For One America" Tour, Edwards Calls For Major Expansion Of Children's Health Insurance Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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