Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bush To Veto Children's Health Insurance

It seems that not a day goes by without more evidence emerging that the Bush Administration is without human conscience. The New York Times has the story:
The White House said on Saturday that President Bush would veto a bipartisan plan to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, drafted over the last six months by senior members of the Senate Finance Committee.

The vow puts Mr. Bush at odds with the Democratic majority in Congress, with a substantial number of Republican lawmakers and with many governors of both parties, who want to expand the popular program to cover some of the nation’s eight million uninsured children.
The program expires on September 30. Last year, some 7.4 million children were, at some point, covered by it. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill Bush will veto would reduce the number of uninsured children by 4.1 million.

So, why would Bush want to deny 4.1 million children health insurance coverage? According to a White House spokesman, part of the reason is that it would be funded through an increased cigarette tax. Another reason:
“The proposal would dramatically expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, adding nonpoor children to the program, and more than doubling the level of spending,” Mr. Fratto said. “This will have the effect of encouraging many to drop private coverage, to go on the government-subsidized program.”
Because we all know that nonpoor children can easily afford private health insurance. This is the 2007 Health and Human Services Poverty Guideline:

Persons in
Family or Household
48 Contiguous
States and D.C.
1$ 10,210$12,770$11,750
For each
person, add

Now, consider that any families making more than that are considered by the Bush Administration as too affluent to need public health insurance for their children. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities compared the relative benefits of public and private health insurance plans. This was their conclusion:
All children covered by Medicaid and SCHIP receive relatively comprehensive health benefits, including preventive and primary medical care, inpatient and outpatient care, laboratory and x-ray services, prescription drugs, and immunizations. Almost all publicly-insured children have coverage for dental, vision and mental health care. (Medicaid standards are more rigorous and require that these services be available for children. They are not required in SCHIP, but most states do cover them.) In comparison, private health insurance benefits vary widely and are typically less comprehensive. Many private plans do not offer dental or vision care, services that are important for children, and some low-cost private plans do not even offer basic services like prescription drugs or preventive care.
The bottom line is this: to the Bush Administration, protecting the tobacco industry and the private health insurance industry is more important than protecting the health of children. Moral values, and family values, indeed.

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