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Pelosi: 'CHAMP Act Champions Quality Health Care for America's Children and for Our Seniors'

Washington, D.C. -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this evening supporting H.R. 3162, the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007 (CHAMP Act).  This bill reauthorizes the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which expires on September 30, and includes several provisions to protect and improve Medicare.  The legislation passed by a vote of 225 to 204.

Below are the Speaker's remarks:

'Mr. Speaker, as I rise here to speak today, sometime after 6:30 p.m., I'm reminded of a poem that most of us memorized when we were young, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: 'Between the dark and the daylight, when the light is beginning to lower, comes a pause in the day's occupation that is known as the children's hour.'

'That's this time of day; this is the children's hour.  Because of the leadership of so many of our colleagues, we are able to meet our moral obligation to our children.  It isn't a pause in our occupation, it is our mission.  This moral obligation that we have to the future.

'When I was sworn in as Speaker, I was surrounded by children.  It was exhilarating, and I called the House of Representatives to order on behalf of all of America's children, establishing this chamber as the champion for our children and for the future. 

'Our legislation is called CHAMP because it does just that.  It champions quality health care for America's children and for our seniors, strengthening families.  It is just one way that this New Direction Congress is putting health care, and particularly the needs of our children, at the top of the nation's agenda. 

'With the passage of this legislation, the New Direction Congress will ensure that 11 million of America's children receive health care coverage and seniors will see improved benefits under Medicare.

'This legislation will help millions of American children and seniors live better lives.  SCHIP, created a decade ago by a Republican Congress and a Democratic President, has dramatically reduced the number of poor, uninsured children in America.  The legislation before us today will improve SCHIP and the lives of millions of working families in America by improving coverage for all 6 million children currently enrolled under SCHIP, insured under SCHIP, extending that coverage to 5 million additional children. 

'Those children will receive dental care, and thanks to Congressman Patrick Kennedy, mental health services.  Dental care, which we take for granted for our own children.  But after this legislation passed, no more will we have a Deamonte Driver, that 12-year-old boy from Maryland who died because he had an abscessed tooth that turned into a brain infection.  We're all familiar with the details of that sad story.  Today we are doing something about it. 

'And let us be clear: most SCHIP beneficiaries receive their coverage through private managed care plans, not through the government.  And let us be clear: the Chairman just pointed out, this legislation is paid for.  No new deficit spending, no keeping mountains of debt on these children to pay for the health care they so rightly deserve. 

'In addition to providing coverage to children, the CHAMP Act also strengthens and improves Medicare for every senior by eliminating co-insurance requirements and deductibles for preventive care.  Imagine that, for preventive care, how important that is.

'The legislation produces co-payments and provides for mental health parity.  And many more seniors will no longer face the donut hole in the prescription drug benefit.

'We do all of this and more for seniors, and I repeat, with pay-as-you-go budget rules and extend the life of Medicare trust funds by three years. 

'By passing the CHAMP Act, the New Direction Congress is keeping our promise to seniors on Medicare and meeting our obligation to our future - our children.  Again, it is paid for.  I can't say that enough. 

'As Pearl Buck said, 'If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.'  With this CHAMP Act, we are not going to fail America's children, we are championing them and their grandparents.  This legislation has fiscal soundness, it is values-based, and it should have the support of everyone in this body.'