This morning I posted a video featuring 2-year-old Bethany Wilkerson in support of S-CHIP. Now Faiz at Think Progress catches us up on the right-wing smear of the Wilkerson family. Read and be outraged.
I note that this time around, the Democrats were careful to push a family forward whose choices regarding health insurance couldnâ€™t be questioned. In that respect, if theyâ€™re waiting for conservatives to attack the Wilkersonâ€™s, they are going to be sorely disappointed.
Um, guess again.
John Amato reports that even some of the talking heads on Faux Snooze are putting some distance between themselves and the attacks on the Frosts and Wilkersons. Neil Gabler and Jane Hall tried to talk some sense into Cal Thomas and James Pinkerton. As if.
For the record, the Bo and Dara Wilkerson say they make $34,000 in combined income from restaurant jobs in St. Petersburg, Fla. They rent their house and the couple owns one car, which Bo calls “a junker.” Malkin and other bloggers have revealed over the past week that the Frost family owned two properties, as well as a couple cars, and had a $45,000 income. The accusation against Democrats, and by extension the Frost family, is that they are too middle class to be granted any subsidized health insurance for their children.
The Wilkersons said they are fully aware of the possibility that their finances and personal lives may be investigated by opponents of the SCHIP bill.
“We rent a house, we have one car that is a junker. Let them dig away,” Bo Wilkerson said. “I have $67 in my checking account. Does that answer your question?”
Righties might answer that they aren’t opposed to TRULY NEEDY children getting S-CHIP. They are opposed to middle-class children who already have insurance getting on the public dole. The response to this comes in an editorial in today’s New York Times:
First, nobody who enrolls in S-chip would be living on government handouts. The families would all be paying appropriate premiums and co-payments. It is also highly unlikely that a lot of people would drop private coverage to enroll in S-chip. States already monitor such substitution and take a number of steps to deter it.
New York estimates that only about 3 percent of the children enrolled in the program came from families that dropped employer coverage to obtain S-chip. Mathematica Policy Research, in a report prepared for the federal government, looked at states across the country and pegged the typical substitution rate at less than 10 percent.
Using a broader methodology and peering into the future, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill vetoed by President Bush would increase enrollment in S-chip and Medicaid by 5.8 million in 2012. Of that total, 3.8 million children would otherwise be uninsured and 2 million would be children who could have gotten private insurance in the absence of S-chip.
Even if that 1-in-3 substitution rate should turn out to be accurate, it is still far better than denying insurance to millions of American children.
From the standpoint of a childâ€™s health, it is often a good thing to substitute S-chip for private coverage. If the available private policy has skimpy benefits or is so costly it devours a family budget with large premiums and cost-sharing, the child may not get needed medical care.
Some critics of S-chip like to cite substitution estimates that are much higher. Mathematica found that so-called â€œpopulation-based studiesâ€ estimated the substitution rate at 10 percent to 56 percent, depending on the approach and assumptions used. These studies capture not only families that dropped private coverage to go into the S-chip program but also families that had an opportunity later to take out private insurance yet stayed on the public program.
The problem with these studies is that they assume that all parents that dropped or decided not to go with private coverage did so because of the availability of S-chip. They ignore other very possible circumstances, such as when families lose their private coverage because a parent dies or loses a job. These studies also take no account of whether a private policy, though theoretically available, was too costly to be affordable for a low-income worker.
On television and radio, in phone calls and e-mails, proponents of the five-year, $35 billion increase are pressuring about 20 Republicans to switch sides and help override President Bush’s veto. The full-court press includes preachers, rock stars such as Paul Simon and sick kids in an effort to sway the result â€” or the next election.
The odds are against us, folks. But if the veto stands, that doesn’t mean the fight is over. It means a lot of right-wingers are going to be clobbered by S-CHIP in the next election. Representatives need to think hard about who they represent — the military-industrial complex, or the people?