Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Inhofe, Coburn Choose
Tobacco Lobby over Oklahoma's Kids

Senators continue to ignore their own
Republican rhetoric on family values.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - Oklahoma's U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn sided with the tobacco lobby over Oklahoma's children Thursday night when they were among only 31 Senators to oppose an expansion of health insurance coverage to 3 million American kids, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Ivan Holmes said today.

"More and more Oklahoma families are struggling to find affordable health care and it should be our moral obligation to see that their children receive quality care," Holmes said. "When it comes to the needs of Oklahoma families and the 140,000 uninsured Oklahoma children, our two Republican Senators sided with big business and special interests."

The bipartisan proposal to renew the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) passed the Senate with 68 votes and includes an additional $35 billion over five years. This will preserve coverage for the 6.6 million children currently enrolled and expand coverage to an additional 3.2 million uninsured, low-income American children.

The additional cost of the program will be paid for by an increase in the tobacco tax. The bill now goes to President Bush, who has threatened a veto.

"If the Senate is called on to override a Presidential veto, I will call on Senators Inhofe and Coburn to reconsider their position and vote next time for Oklahoma's children," Holmes said.

The CHIP funding bill is a classic example of how bipartisan cooperation can get results. In order to gain passage, both sides were forced to compromise before a final agreement was reached.

A similar bill was passed by the Oklahoma State Legislature earlier this year. The All Kids Act, authored by Senator Tom Adelson (D-Tulsa) and Sen. Brian Crain, (R-Tulsa), increased the investment in our state's health care system which will be matched by increased federal Medicaid dollars.

Oklahoma currently ranks 44th among the 50 states in children's access to health care and is tied at 50th with Mississippi for our overall healthcare system according to the Commonwealth Fund, a non-partisan private foundation dedicated to increasing access to healthcare.

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