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Despite making health care reform a centerpiece of the 1992 Democratic platform, the issue remained an unfulfilled goal for much of the 1990s until Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy stepped into the breach. To address the growing problem of health care for children of the “working poor” — families who couldn’t afford health care coverage on their own but had too much income to qualify for Medicare, Sen. Kennedy proposed legislation to create a federal matching fund for states that helped pay for such care. Sen. Kennedy, as Eastern and liberal a senator as they come, found an unlikely partner across the aisle to co-sponsor his legislation, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, a western conservative whose career would seem to be the polar opposite. With Hatch involved, congressional conservatives were mollified that the program would not derail the quest for a balanced budget and the Hatch-Kennedy bill, signed into law later that year, established the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

1997-01-01 00:00:00

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