All of us can agree that providing health care to low-income children is important, which is why I reintroduced the Kids First legislation yesterday, along with 18 cosponsors. Kids First calls for responsible expansion of the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover more low-income children, and to cover them first.

It reauthorizes SCHIP while focusing on low-income kids who are eligible but not enrolled in the program. Kids First would expand current coverage to include 1.3 million new low-income kids, remove non-pregnant adults from the program and strengthen premium assistance so states can use the money to keep people in private health coverage.

In my home state of Kentucky, the Democrats’ vetoed bill would provide less coverage for kids’ health care in 2008 than our Kids First plan. Kentuckians would pay $600 million more in new taxes than they would receive in new benefits under the Democrats’ plan -- a $600 million wealth transfer from Kentucky to states like New York and New Jersey. Kentuckians don’t want the money they’ve targeted for poor children going to adults and middle class families who live in other states and can afford insurance on their own.

Until this year, SCHIP had been a bipartisan program and a bipartisan success. These kids deserve our best work, and we owe it to them to forge a bipartisan compromise the president can sign.

Cosponsors include: Sens. Allard, Barrasso, Bennett, Bunning, Burr, Coburn, Cochran, Cornyn, DeMint, Dole, Ensign, Enzi, Gregg, Inhofe, Isakson, Kyl, Lott, and Vitter.