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Millions of (Uninsured) Children Left Behind

This post, written by Richard Blair, originally appeared on The All Spin Zone

Deamonte Driver died earlier this year because his mother didn't qualify for Medicaid, but had no health insurance, and couldn't take him to a doctor. Funding of an upcoming bill is intended to cover every child who is not otherwise covered by Medicaid or private health insurance. Bush's intent is to veto the bill.


Commentary By: Richard Blair

With all of the legislative bruhaha over Iraq, you can be forgiven if you missed reports of George Bush threatening to veto a proposed federal funding increase to the State Children's Health Insurance Program. In short, the Senate is proposing to add $35 billion to the program so that every child in America is guaranteed health coverage. The intent of the bill is to cover every child who is not otherwise covered by Medicaid or private health insurance.

Bush's take?
"I support the initial intent of the program," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post after a factory tour and a discussion on health care with small-business owners in Landover. "My concern is that when you expand eligibility . . . you're really beginning to open up an avenue for people to switch from private insurance to the government."
The 10-year-old program, which is set to expire on Sept. 30, costs the federal government $5 billion a year and helps provide health coverage to 6.6 million low-income children whose families do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance on their own.
Did you do a double-take? Yeah, me too. Go back and read those two paragraphs again. We'll wait.

Ok? Now, this makes absolutely no sense to me. The intent of the program is to make sure that if a parent is actually trying to support their family by working in a low paying job, and not receiving welfare / AFDC (ergo, not qualifying for Medicaid), but has no health insurance through their employer, that their children don't fall through a safety net and don't receive adequate healthcare.

This seems eminently reasonable to me. Do you recall this case from earlier in the year?
Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old homeless child, died Sunday in a District hospital after an infection from a molar spread to his brain.
At the time he fell ill, his family's Medicaid coverage had lapsed. Even on the state plan, his mother said, the children lacked regular dental care and she had great difficulty finding a dentist...
For every high-profile case such as that of Deamonte Driver, there are probably 100 that aren't reported. Let's don't even get into checkups and immunizations. Kids get sick, and the parent(s) can't take them to the doctor because they're not covered, and in some cases, emergency rooms won't even see them due to outstanding medical bills with the hospital.

What George Bush is doing is not what Michael Moore's "SiCKO" is all about. Moore's movie is about the problems that people with health coverage run into. There's simply no end to the problems that people with absolutely no coverage (and I've been there before) have to deal with.

Children are not responsible for the station in life that their parents occupy. Neither should they be punished for their parent's station in life - but that's exactly what George W. Bush is proposing in his threat to veto increased funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. Joe Gandelman sums it up nicely at The Moderate Voice:

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