Monday, September 10, 2007


An article in The New Republic this week attempts to unravel the myths of children's health insurance programs in this country. "Debunking Conservatives' Myths About S-CHIP" by Jonathan Cohn is a realistic look at why the current administration, that does not believe in offering these health insurance programs to children whose parents on the surface do not need the help, and the more moderate voices who feel that the current S-CHIP (State-Children's Health Insurance Program) plan on the table is overreaching. The reasoning behind this stems from the income gap that puts working families in a position of making too much money to apply for Medicaid and not enough money to afford their own private health insurance plan.

Where Cohn's article falls short, like many other well-written articles on children's health insurance in this country, is in the depiction of the cost of S-CHIP. After laying out the hard numbers on who in which states can apply for CHIP, he factually examines the cost of living and earned income requirements for applicants. Surprisingly in some states a family of four may have an income of $80,000 and is still eligible for assistance--those states of course would be the higher cost of living states like New York.

Without question Cohn's research is credible and respectable, but yields the same results as most other attempts to describe the proposal--we simply cannot afford it.

What we cannot afford in this country is to continue to allow children, regardless of their background, family income, etc. to go without treatment. Solving or at the very least managing many health problems in youth prevents devastating health crises in adulthood. Additionally, if children are taught from an early age about when it is (and isn't) appropriate to seek medical advice, once grown they will have retained that knowledge and will use it wisely, often allowing cancer to be caught sooner or allowing them the benefit of early management of lifelong diseases. Yearly physicals and exams are needed throughout all stages of life and when is a better time to learn the importance of this than in childhood?

The issue shouldn't be whether or not an annual budget has room for the growing costs of the S-CHIP plan, but whether our conscience can survive continued neglect of our nation's children. Evidently our conscience can survive. It doesn't appear from Cohn's article or the current facts and figures on continued funding of S-CHIP that the discussion is shifting directions.

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