Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why SCHIP Matters

For two weeks now I have been pondering the looming veto override showdown that will begin tomorrow. For two weeks now I have been wondering how five-hundred and thirty-five men and women couldn't create a piece of legislation that would protect children from the inevitable discontinuation of their only health insurance.

This is what irritates me about partisan politics. Shouldn't some issues be out of the realm of partisanship? Shouldn't they be out of the reach of politicians who will use them as campaign issues? Shouldn't they be more important than the battleground they become?

As I have thought about the debate surrounding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), I haven't been able to get a Dickens adage out of my head: "No man can expect his children to respect what he degrades." If the children of Senator Thune of South Dakota had been sitting in front of CSPAN two weeks ago as I was, they certainly would have walked away with no respect for the government trying to assist them in being healthy, well taken care of young people. At the very least, they would have walked away with contempt for SCHIP. In all reality if any of Senator Thune's children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews had suffered from a childhood or lifelong illness, his respect for a program watching out for children in those positions would much greater.

Senator Thune clearly doesn't understand the meaning of preventative care. He also doesn't seem to grasp the consequences of not standing up to a reckless administration.

From an earlier Idaho Democratic Party press release, Chairman Stallings said:
“Allowing President Bush’s reckless and irresponsible veto to stand means denying thousands of Idaho children the opportunity to see a doctor, receive preventative care and live healthier and happier lives. Republicans like Craig and Crapo should have the courage to do the right thing and stand up to President Bush by joining Democrats in fighting for the families and children of Idaho.”

Do we really understand the definition of preventative care? Have you seen why this is so important? A twelve year old could walk into a clinic or doctor's office with lightheadedness, weight gain, even weight loss, and by all other appearances, the common signs of puberty. The clinic could turn the twelve year old away from lack of insurance and the parents' ability to pay. Four years later that same kid, now sixteen, could present with similar symptoms, this time more severe and accompanied by blurred vision, feet and abdominal swelling, and fatigue. The second time around the kid is on some insurance plan that covers necessary blood work and a physical examination. The second time around the kid walks away with a diagnosis of early onset type 2 Diabetes. Maybe the kid's family can afford the necessary medication, maybe not. Two years later the kid, now capable of having their own insurance and much more aware of the physical symptoms is made aware of the unpleasant complications of Diabetes--Diabetes left unchecked for too many years. Complications in older patients who have not taken care of their blood sugar can include foot ulcers, decreased kidney function, even a higher risk of kidney disease, glaucoma, blindness, heart and blood vessel diseases, and many other serious life threatening problems.

Did it matter if that twelve year old had health insurance? Maybe not at that very moment that the kid presented with symptoms, but it surely mattered for the next seventy to eighty years of that person's life.

Of course, there are many other diseases that afflict young people that if not properly addressed when discovered can cause a slue of problems later in life. Children can't be responsible for their own insurance and maybe their parents aren't capable of providing for them as they should. A good, responsible, morally sound government has a responsibility to take care of its number one asset--its children.

I am a firm believer in the theory of Maslow. For those of you not familiar, Maslow, a sociologist came up with a pyramid, a hierarchy of needs. If the bottom need on the pyramid is addressed, a person can look toward the addressing of the next need, and so on until a person reaches their maximum potential and the top of the pyramid. The bottom level and most critical need that must be met is the physiological need. Physiological needs include food, water, shelter, and clothing. Nowhere does Maslow address the issue of health or for that matter health insurance, but one can assume based on the criteria of the second step of the pyramid (an environment that protects against hunger and violence) that the health of the individual is one of the most basic needs. If a kid is suffering from a serious illness, how can they progress to the highest level of self-actualization?

If you haven't called your congressman or your senators, do it first thing in the morning. Remind them how important health insurance is for our nation's children. Remind them that for the last two weeks while they've been doing their politicking, thousands of American children have been in the balance. Call your elected officials and remind them why SCHIP matters.

No comments :