Taking Care of Our Own

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Bush Administration, Health Care

As you know, the Bush Administration has moved boldly to protect the insurance industry from the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or “S-chip.” The Bushies have attached tough new strings to the program to prevent states from expanding coverage to children of middle-income families. Many of these strings are designed to prevent families already covered by private insurance from dropping it and moving to the subsidized programs.

However, most of the middle-income children the Administration wants to keep out of the program are not covered by private insurance, either.

This Associated Press story from Texas explains the problem:

… The Houston teaching assistant’s 18-year-old twins were bumped in May from the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP in Texas. The overtime she worked pushed the household income above the program’s limit. The boys relied for six years on the program, which covers kids to age 19.

The Pacheco twins are among thousands of children whose families’ incomes are too high to qualify for CHIP but still can’t afford private insurance. While some in Texas are hoping to raise the limits to allow more coverage, President Bush and some in Congress want to keep the income ceilings intact.

This week, the administration directed states to make children wait a year before enrolling in the program, a guideline aimed at preventing families from dropping private insurance to enroll in CHIP.

About half of the estimated 1.4 million uninsured children in Texas don’t qualify for CHIP. Some are undocumented, some have pre-existing conditions that keep them from getting private coverage, and others are like the Pachecos whose incomes prevent them from enrolling in CHIP.

Children’s advocates in Texas had hoped that one day the state would raise the income limits, which in the state is 200 percent of poverty level, or $41,300 for a family of four.

“The largest growth of uninsured has been in the middle class,” said Barbara Best, executive director of Texas Children’s Defense Fund. “Families earning $50,000 to $60,000 a year can’t afford private health insurance. Why can’t they benefit through the system as well?

In 2005, the average cost of life insurance in Texas was was $9,100 per family, about $760 a month. I assume it’s higher now.

Officials also said states can’t enroll children in families who earn more than the CHIP income limit until 95 percent of children who qualify for CHIP or Medicaid are enrolled in those programs.

Last year, 41,523 children covered by CHIP left because their family income exceeded CHIP income limits, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Department.

A department study found 1 percent of the 2003 average monthly new enrollees, 21,295 kids, had dropped private insurance to get CHIP coverage.

But, that 1 percent is taking bread out of the mouths of health insurance executives. BTW, via a quickie google search I learned that health insurance profits are booming.

The dwindling number of Americans still covered by employee-subsidized health care are sheltered from the realities of health insurance cost. Texas is one of the states without those nasty “regulations” righties sneer at that prevent health insurance companies from refusing to cover sick people, yet it also has the highest percentage of uninsured citizens — 27.1 percent — of any state. The high percentage of uninsured has an unfortunate impact on Texas.

Regarding S-chip, this op ed from today’s Orange County Register expresses the Bushie POV:

A Bush administration policy that would make it less easy for states to expand a children’s health insurance program well beyond the low-income children it was designed to cover has been greeted with outrage.

The most logical explanation is that some legislators really want the government to “crowd out” private insurance as a prelude to replacing it with an all-inclusive government program that covers everybody. …

… The government has already allowed states to offer the program to families above the official poverty level of $20,650 for a family of four. Most states now offer it to those at double that level, or $41,300 a year. Some states are at 250 percent ($51,625), and New York wants to offer it to families at quadruple the poverty level, up to $82,600.

At such levels, however, a subsidized government program starts to look better to people who already have private health insurance. Thus the “free” (i.e., taxpayer-paid) insurance starts to “crowd out” private insurance.

The Bush administration would make states that want to offer the program to families at more than 200 percent of the poverty level wait until 95 percent of those at or below the 200 percent figure are covered before they expand it.

That has states eager to expand a program – with “free” federal money – howling on behalf of “the children.” Enough already.

Spoken like a man who’s never had to buy private insurance for a child with a pre-existing condition. Attempt to buy, I should say.

See also: “Stiff-Arming Children’s Health

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10 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Bonnie  •  Aug 26, 2007 @10:14 pm

    Has this administration done ANY thing in the best interests of “We, the people”?

  2. nabalzbbfr  •  Aug 26, 2007 @10:25 pm

    Government should not be in the business of baling out improvident parents who fail to set aside the necessary resources to insure their children’s welfare. It is at odds with our Christian heritage, as the parable of the foolish virgins in Matthew 25 teaches us.It is also entirely against the traditions of our pioneer forebears, who had to set aside sufficient provision every year for their families to survive the harsh winters.

  3. maha  •  Aug 26, 2007 @10:52 pm

    I thought the Wise and Foolish Virgins story was about being ready for the Last Judgment. Well, I guess if you can’t see a doctor, you’d better be ready.

  4. quixote  •  Aug 27, 2007 @12:20 am

    also against the traditions of our pioneer forebears, who had to set aside sufficient provision every year for their families to survive the winters

    You’re aware that not all of them survived, right? And that not everyone can survive just by “setting aside enough to [e]nsure their children’s welfare”? So you’re saying that it’s okay for people to die because taking care of our own is too expensive.

    There are places which apply that principle much more thoroughly than the US. Much as I’ve always looked down on the love-it-or-leave-it mindset, the temptation is too much for me just now. So try Zimbabwe. At least so long as it’s every soul for her- or himself there.

  5. biggerbox  •  Aug 27, 2007 @1:02 am

    Luckily for me, I live in a modern post-agrarian, industrialized country without a state-established religion, where we don’t have to conform our behaviors to that of some ancient polygamist in a second-hand story, nor watch our children die early of easily treatable diseases. It sure is good to live in the 21st Century.

    Instead, though, I worry about the morality of things like running up enormous governmental debt without taking steps to ensure sufficient healthy future taxpayers to pay it off, or denying medicines and treatments that were unknown to our pioneer forebears merely because our tax structure makes it profitable for some corporate decision-makers to break their promises to Mommy and Daddy, who (having been fired from the factory that employed their father and grandfather) now can’t pay for insurance because the factory went to Asia.

    Not being bound by an (oddly contradictory) theocratic system that would deny contraception and sex education yet also resist paying for child health care, I can have the liberty to feel compassion for those children, who, through no fault of their own, happened to be born to ‘improvident’ Mommies and Daddies who somehow hadn’t set aside enough to see them through unpredictable global economic and industrial transformations.

    As a citizen in a powerful, industrial democracy, I can choose to have my government assist them, knowing that, in so doing, we could “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” these being among the key reasons we have a government in my country. Thus I improve my chances of having smart, educated people to run the country and staff the hospitals, factories and farms, etc. and take care of me when I’m old and infirm.

    What can I say? Compassion for innocent children AND long-term self-interest. I’m just the kind of guy who really goes for such things.

  6. moonbat  •  Aug 27, 2007 @1:25 am

    It is also entirely against the traditions of our pioneer forebears, who had to set aside sufficient provision every year for their families to survive the harsh winters.

    Look very closely at that phrase of yours, had to set aside… They had no other choice.

    And what was the life expectancy of our sturdy pioneers, their infant mortality rates, and so on? If you want to go back to such harsh and primitive times, be my guest. I live in 2007, not 1807. Our pioneer forbears would jump at the chance to live in our time, not theirs. Think about it.

    My ancestors, who came after the pioneers, fought for organized collective action (otherwise known as good government) to cover my back, so that I can live a long, healthy, and productive life – unlike the pioneers who had no other choice. What my ancestors created – thanks to liberal ideology – was at one time widely known as “the American way of life” and was the envy of the world.

    Sending all of us back to those glorious pioneer days, when people suffered enormous deprivation and short lifespans, while in a time of vast material and scientific wealth is what passes on the right for a good idea. Do you people have any idea how utterly stupid you sound?

    It is at odds with our Christian heritage, as the parable of the foolish virgins in Matthew 25 teaches us.

    Your pathetic ideology is at odds with what Christ himself taught. Matthew 25 also teaches:

    For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
    I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
    I was a stranger and you invited me in,
    I needed clothes and you clothed me,
    I was sick and you looked after me,
    I was in prison and you came to visit me….

    I tell you the truth,
    whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine,
    you did for me.

    Furthermore, in Mark 12:29, Jesus teaches that the greatest commandments are:

    1) love God with everything you’ve got

    2) love your neighbor as yourself.

    Why does the right have so much trouble with commandment number 2 above, with real charity, using the vast resources of this country (we’re not pioneers anymore and we don’t need to suffer) to address the real needs of people who live today, here and now? Why does the right have such trouble following such explicit and prominent commands of Jesus to be serious about this?

  7. Ian  •  Aug 27, 2007 @11:35 am

    Heh, moonbat … after reading nabal’s comment, I went and looked up the parable of the sheep and the goats, all ready to paste it into the comment box … ya beat me to it.

    Nevertheless. I am no longer all that religious, but nearly all of my early moral development came from christiaity, and the single most formative passage I ever read was that one … whatever you have done unto the very least of my children, you have done unto me…

    To claim that refusing to give health insurance to children that can’t otherwise get it is somehow motivated by religion is obscene. Whatever you have denied to the very least of his children, you have denied to him. He was sick, and you gave him nothing, for fear the insurance companies might be financially hurt. Shame.

    -me

  8. We Are The 801  •  Aug 27, 2007 @12:19 pm

    [dripping sarcasm] don’t crucify the insurance poor insurance companies! [/dripping sarcasm]

  9. eRobin  •  Aug 28, 2007 @10:47 am

    Luckily for me, I live in a modern post-agrarian, industrialized country without a state-established religion, where we don’t have to conform our behaviors to that of some ancient polygamist in a second-hand story, nor watch our children die early of easily treatable diseases. It sure is good to live in the 21st Century.

    Bravo 🙂

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