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Child Health Care Pushed by Lieberman


SAN DIEGO — Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman pushed the Democratic ticket's health care plan as he stumped through Southern California on Tuesday, avoiding the charged subjects of faith and popular culture that he has tackled in recent days.

At the Children's Hospital in San Diego, the Democratic vice presidential nominee promised that he and Vice President Al Gore will help get every child access to health insurance by 2005.

"Why do you get involved in government?" he asked, speaking to about two dozen parents and children gathered in a hospital physical therapy gym. "You want to help people live better lives. And you know the government can't do it all for everybody, but for folks who are out there working and can't afford to cover their kids themselves, the government ought to give them a hand."

The Gore-Lieberman proposal, at a cost of $95 billion over 10 years, would expand the Children's Health Insurance Program to cover children in families living at 250% of the poverty level ($41,000 annually for a family of four).

Several parents in the room praised the Healthy Families program, California's version of CHIP, but said that coverage needs to be extended to adults.

Lieberman agreed, saying that the Gore-Lieberman proposal would allow parents of children who qualify for CHIP to buy into the program.

The Connecticut senator also saluted the workers of the high-tech communication industry Tuesday, saying that a Gore-Lieberman administration would be well-versed on the new challenges of the Information Age.

"America cannot afford to have a president in the 21st century who doesn't understand the terrain of the new economy," he told members of the Communications Workers of America, gathered in the Anaheim Convention Center for their annual convention.

Lieberman's campaign spokeswoman, Kiki McLean, responded Tuesday to an open letter from screenwriter Joe Eszterhas published in Daily Variety that said the entertainment industry should withhold donations to the campaign until Lieberman explains his "veiled threats" of censorship.

McLean said Lieberman has never advocated any form of censorship. "But when there are products that are not necessarily good for our kids and our families, he's not going to be shy to challenge the industry," she said.

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