Columnist Charita Goshay says she'd rather have her money go to help poor children than dropped over Iraq.
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program was designed to provide a safety net for more than 6 million poor children. Created in 1997, it is a partnership between the states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which contributes matching funds.
SCHIP’s federal leg of funding will expire Sept. 30 unless Congress renews it. The National Governors Association is urging the body to defy a veto threat by President Bush, who has chosen this program to draw a line in the sand against overspending and has counter-offered with $5 billion a year for the next five years -- less than half of the $14 billion a year proponents claim it will require.
I know what you’re thinking: “I can barely afford to take care of my own kid. Why should I pay for someone else’s?”
It’s a fair question. Perhaps the answer is: Because caring about the least among us is an American hallmark that distinguishes us from the rest of the world. The stock market might be booming like a home-run hitter on steroids, but so is the number of hardworking Americans mired in poverty.
Although it generally is not regarded as such, health insurance for children is a pro-life issue.
Because a nation that claims to live by Judeo-Christian ethics undoubtedly knows that caring for the poor -- not sin -- is the most enduring theme in the Scriptures.
If the program is not reauthorized, millions of children could lose access to medical care. If the nation’s morality really is a concern, this might be a good place to start.
Our tax dollars are spent every day on more foolish and wasteful ventures, yet few of us make a federal case of it. But there’s something fundamentally wrong when the Department of Defense can burn through $100 million for unused flight tickets, yet Deamonte Driver, 12, can live a stone’s throw from the DOD and die from an abscessed tooth because his family couldn’t afford a dentist.
Isn’t there something badly skewed about a policy that thinks nothing of overpaying as much as $1.9 billion for Medicare prescription benefits yet won’t allow the agency to negotiate for cheaper prices? According to the Heritage Foundation -- which opposes the renewal of SCHIP, arguing that it has succumbed to the slippery slope of expansionism -- payment errors in Medicare alone are more than $12.3 billion a year, nearly enough to keep SCHIP afloat.
There have been abuses in SCHIP. It has benefited families who don’t need help, as well as adults, which undermines its intent. There must be an end to this. But even if SCHIP ends, you won’t somehow magically get your money back. The government will always find something on which to spend it, be it a $320 million “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, no-bid Katrina contracts or a weather museum in Punxsutawney, Pa.
SCHIP serves the children of the working poor, the people who deliver your pizzas and help to care for your great-aunt in the nursing home. Many are caught in a Catch-22 -- too poor to afford private health insurance yet not “poor enough” to qualify for Medicaid.
According to the Children’s Defense Fund, Ohio has 248,000 uninsured children. Mr. Bush is fond of saying that it’s my money. Fine. I’d rather my share be spent on them than air-dropped over Iraq.
Charity Goshay writes for the Canton Repository.