Sen. Hillary Clinton speaks about health care at the Exeter Hospital on Friday, May 11, 2007 in New Hampshire. (Rich Beauchesne photo / SMG)
EXETER — U.S. Sen. and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton stopped by Exeter Hospital Friday morning to talk about how our nation's health care system affects uninsured and under-insured mothers and children.
"This is appropriate to do the Friday before Mother's Day," Clinton said, "because the greatest gift to give a mother is the health of her child."
Clinton said too many families live in fear that when their children go out to play sports or come home sick, they won't get the care they need because they are either uninsured or are not receiving adequate health care coverage.
Clinton is no stranger to the health care debate. In 1994, she spearheaded a major reform effort by her husband, President Bill Clinton. The effort was crushed by special interest groups and bipartisan opposition in Congress.
During the visit Friday, Clinton spoke with mothers who said they have trouble finding affordable and adequate health care coverage.
AnnMarie Morse shared the story of her daughter, Michelle, who died at the age of 22 from colon cancer after choosing to stay in college as a full-time student to keep her health insurance; Shaundra Page spoke about the difficulty of finding affordable health care for a single mother; and Kelsi McCarthy told of the difficulties faced by a self-employed family.
Clinton said the panel of mothers showed the widespread issues families face regarding health care.
"I think we've described the problem pretty well," she said.
Clinton's health care goals include finding ways to "cover everybody, reduce costs for everybody and improve quality for everybody."
In order to do this, she said she will stand against the proposed budget cuts by President Bush.
Clinton said Bush has proposed limiting the enhanced State Children's Health Insurance Program federal matching dollars for families that fall under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. If this proposal passes, 80 percent of New Hampshire's SCHIP kids would lose the enhanced federal match.
In March, Clinton introduced the Children's Health First Act to extend coverage to uninsured children across the country. Her legislation allows states to expand children's health coverage to families up to 400 percent below the federal poverty level through SCHIP and receive increased federal payments.
Clinton said she is hoping to put a system in place that will cover every child.
"I believe there is a growing commitment with a lot of people to try to fix this problem," she said. "The stars are coming into alignment to solve the problem."
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