National Healthcare for Pets
(NPR News may have been just 'fooling' at the time, but 7 years later it's not so far-fetched after all...)
"Reaction today was swift and vocal to an administration proposal to extend universal health care to pets.
Under the measure, veterinary care coverage would be fully subsidized by tax dollars. As a result of the announcement, a three-way squabble has erupted between fiscal conservatives, animal rights groups and pro-human organizations.
Health and Human Services officials found themselves scrambling to clarify who would be eligible for the controversial Pet Health Insurance Program, or PHIP. The program would allow states to use federal funds to cover veterinarian visits, preventive care, neutering -- even hairball extractions. For All Things Considered, NPR's Julie Rovner reports.
"Opponents of the measure argue that since house pets like gerbils don't pay taxes, they shouldn't receive benefits. But animal rights activists applaud the change. Valerie Austin, vice president of Animals First -- an advocacy group that has pushed for full rights for pets -- points out that the federal government provides aid to illegal immigrants and children, even though those groups don't pay taxes."
"But Amy Lawrence of The Four-Legged League says universal pet care wouldn't automatically confer full rights to animals -- merely bring them dignity. "It's time for America to give their pets the respect they need," she says."
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