Sen. Orrin Hatch sparks backlash after claiming there’s no money for children’s health plan

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Less than two days after the Senate passed widely criticized tax reform legislation, one of the tax bill’s key proponents came under fire for claiming there’s no money for a children’s health care plan he helped create.

On the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) responded to a question from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) about the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a low-cost health insurance plan for children from low-income families that Congress has yet to renew since it expired Oct. 1.

The question came during a debate on the Republican tax bill, which Hatch presided over as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

In response, Hatch claimed the health insurance program had not been renewed due to a lack of funds.

“The reason CHIP’s having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore,” Hatch said.

Source: Daily Kos/YouTube

Though Hatch described CHIP as having done a “terrific job,” he then used the entitlement program as an opportunity to criticize programs that “help people [who] won’t help themselves” — seemingly appearing to equate such people with the 9 million children that rely on CHIP.

“I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything,” Hatch said.

The senator ultimately vowed the Senate would renew funding for CHIP.

Hatch’s comments, which were highlighted on MSNBC’s website and mentioned on social media Sunday in a now-deleted tweet from Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, drew widespread criticism over the weekend as passage of the Senate tax bill continued to spark outrage.

Others pointed out that Hatch was generally supportive of CHIP and that his most fiery complaint concerned other government programs that, in the senator’s estimation, take resources from the children’s insurance program.

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