SCHIP, or the State Children's Health Insurance Program is a state-and-federal program that successfully provides medical insurance to children whose families cannot afford insurance, and who do not qualify for other programs, such as Medicaid. But the program is in trouble. The AMA is worried that the Senate may move to strip the Medicare physician reimbursement increase out of the children's health legislation and dubs the negotiations in both Houses as "contentious." Just before leaving for their August recess, Congress passed a measure that would prevent Medicare physician pay cuts for the next two years; the next day, the Senate passed Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 which did nothing to change physicians Medicare payments. Because the bills are substantially different, when Congress reconvenes in September a committee will attempt to work out a compromise to save SCHIP before it automatically expires Sept. 30th.
But the program remains in serious jeporady. In his infinate lack of wisdom, President Bush threatens to veto ANY legislation he's sent:
"The program is going beyond the initial intent of helping poor children. It's now aimed at encouraging more people to get on government health care. That's what that is. It's a way to encourage people to transfer from the private sector to government health-care plans."Yeah, THAT's the ticket. Pesky government health-care plans sounds like (gasp) Socialized Medicine.
"(The program) has a solid track record of working to get kids covered and that's important because kids who don't have health care coverage are less likely to see a doctor," said Elaine Arkin, communications director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Vincent DeMarco, of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, an advocacy and lobbying group based in Baltimore, says that SCHIP is, in his opinion, one of the most successful government programs ever.
Barbara Ehrenreich suggests a solution:
Open up pet health insurance to all American children now!
This year, Americans will spend about $9.8 billion on health care for their pets, up from $7.2 billion five years ago. According to the New York Times, New York's leading pet hospitals offer CT scans, MRI's, dialysis units, and even a rehab clinic featuring an underwater treadmill, perhaps for the amphibians in one's household. A professor who consults to pet health facilities on communication issues justified these huge investments in pet health to me by pointing out that pets are, after all, "part of the family."Well, kids are part of the family, too, and can do almost as many tricks as your dog! And they snuggle as well as your cat. So, why not? Pet insurance is not very expensive, around $33 per month. Of course, Ms. Ehrenreich refers to an article by the NY Times' Bob Herbert from June of this year. In the article, Mr. Herbert wrote about Diamonte Driver, a 12-year old boy who died recently from an abscessed tooth because he had no insurance and his mother could not afford $80 to have the tooth pulled. And he also wrote about 14-year old Devante Johnson, who died when his health insurance ran out in the middle of treatment for kidney cancer. Both these kids could have been treated by a Veterinarian. Instead, their lives were cut short for lack of insurance, for lack of $80.
We can, we must, do better. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you.
cross posted at The Sirens Chronicles