Cardin pushes health care bills

August 08, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - During a visit Tuesday to the Walnut Street Community Health Center in Hagerstown, U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin talked about two pieces of health care legislation that he supports in the Senate.

Cardin, D-Md., said Congress needs to support a universal health care bill that he introduced last week and a proposal to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program.

If passed, the universal health care bill would require uninsured people to enroll in a qualified health care plan and would impose a tax on anyone who fails to comply, he said. Proceeds from the tax would be used to buy health insurance for violators of the law.

Cardin said more than 46 million Americans, including 9 million children, do not have health insurance.

The bill would affect mostly working Americans with the means to afford health insurance, he said.

People on a limited income still would be eligible for Medicaid, Cardin said.


The four-page bill would provide a simple solution to ensure all Americans have health care, he said.

Expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program would provide health care coverage for an additional 3.2 million low-income children nationwide, he said. Currently, about 6.6 million low-income children receive their health care through CHIP.

Congressional support of the CHIP legislation would increase Maryland's funding from $67 million in fiscal year 2007 to $188.9 million in fiscal year 2008, he said.

Kim Murdaugh, executive director of the Walnut Street Community Health Center, said the center continually seeks new funding and expanding CHIP would be a big help.

The center annually treats about 5,000 patients, she said.

Many of those patients do not have insurance or participate in Medicare or Medicaid.

City officials also gave Cardin a tour of development downtown.

The senator lauded Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, the Hagerstown City Council and the city staff for their efforts to make the city a better place to live and visit.

"It's very exciting," Cardin said. "It's bringing life back to a city that has a proud history and a bright future."

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