Bush, Congress and SCHIP: Remember, Children Will Vote Someday

I’ve been asked for weeks to weigh in on the SCHIP bill (State Children’s Health Insurance Program.) I had to give it some thought because I just couldn’t fathom that there could be any opposition without some good reason. So I’ve read commentary by President Bush, commentary by John McCain, coverage by CNN, Fox and Reuters. And now I’m ready to share my opinion.

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what anyone has to gain by veto-ing this bill. Letting politics stand in the way of children’s health is just plain wrong.

President Bush gave two reasons for vetoing the bill that would provide care to more than 10 million children. His first reason is that the law was intended to protect only “poor children” – children who live in low income families. He stated that this bill would cover children it wasn’t intended to cover.

You’re wrong Mr. President. First, because families would pay for access to this insurance on a sliding scale, based on their income. A family with $40,000 income per year will pay a fraction of the amount a family making $75,000 a year will make.

But they may BOTH need the help. Here’s why:

In order to keep health insurance on a family with children, premiums can range from $500 to more than $1000/month, depending on how much is paid by an employer. Not everyone has an employer who pays part of their insurance, and there are millions of families who must pay the entire amount themselves. By the time you subtract $12,000 or more from a family’s income, that can easily move them into the realm of needing help, even if it doesn’t seem that way to begin with. And that’s just for premiums! Imagine what happens to families who have real health challenges to face.

Next, across the country, “equal” incomes are not equal. A family with $80,000 worth of income in Boston, or New York or San Francisco or any other expensive large city, doesn’t have nearly the spendable income that a family does say, in Toledo or even Syracuse, NY where I live. By the time that big, expensive city dweller pays for housing and taxes in those bigger cities AND health insurance — what’s left over? not much. $80,000 does not always equal $80,000.

But President Bush obviously has no understanding of this. He lives in his own, sheltered world of a rich family, rich friends, and cronies who kiss his political patootie and don’t comprehend a sense of the world the rest of us live in. Remember when his father was befuddled by a scanner at a supermarket? He’d never seen one before! Well — behold his son, our current president, who doesn’t “get” the common man either.

Next, Mr. Bush expressed his concern that insuring additional children would be a move toward universal, nationalized health care and he didn’t want to go there.

Mr. Bush — What do you call Medicare? And what do you call Medicaid and other programs that help those who can’t help themselves? The system works remarkably well for seniors. Aren’t our children just as important as seniors are?

In my opinion, the president had two reasons for making such a statement: first, that he wanted to make a point that for those presidential candidates talking about possible healthcare reform, that he wants healthcare to remain private.

He must believe that national health coverage and private coverage are mutually exclusive — and they are not. We can have a national plan that provides care to those who need it without going to a totally national, federally funded system. Just like our schools provide choices to families, so does healthcare. I cite Medicare, again, as an example.

Politics — his priority.

His second reason for making such a statement is because his cronies benefit from the lobbyists from private healthcare that pour millions of dollars into the pockets of those on Capital Hill.

Politics – more important than children.

My final frustration comes from claims that it will be too expensive to expand the SCHIP program. First of all, the additional funding would come from additional taxes on cigarettes… and what a great idea that is! (unless, of course, that upsets the cronies who are supported by lobbyists in big tobacco?)

But secondly — I’m as patriotic as anyone, yet as much as I believe we need to protect our country, I can’t understand any president who would deny healthcare to the tune of $12 to $20 billion when he is spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a war….

What good does it do to “win” the war, if children living on our own American soil are dying for lack of medical care?

I implore members of Congress to override Mr. Bush’s veto of the SCHIP bill.

And to those members of Congress who insist that politics are more important than children, then consider this: those children, if they survive to adulthood, will be the ones who may vote for you — or against you — someday. As good voters, they’ll be reviewing your record. What do you want them to find?

Now THAT’s politics.

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Trisha Torrey
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