Bush Whacking Kids

As many advocates know, 2007 is a crucial year for children’s health care. The federal State Children’s Health Insurance Program is up for renewal. President Bush has given the program the bare minimum to continue the next five years.

In his latest stunt, George Bush criticized those who would extend State Children’s Health Insurance Program to “middle-income” families. He apparently believes that families earning $35,000 a year can buy “affordable” health coverage (with high deductibles), wipe out their savings with a health emergency, and be able to hold on to their tenuous spot in the middle class, work three jobs and help keep the economy humming.

George Bush has been resisting the expansion of the program that allows children to get the health care they need — like filling cavities, getting glasses, seeing a doctor.

In California, 800,000 children are enrolled in Healthy Families and are in families earning up to 2.5 times poverty ($42,925 for a family of three.) Bush wants to change rules allowing only children in families earning less than $34,340 (family of three), which would mean about 170,000 children would be abruptly cut off from coverage.

In the meantime, California politicians — including Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — want to raise the lid — allowing more middle-income families to enroll (about 77,000 more chidren). Eighteen other states also allow families earning more than Bush’s proposed cap to enroll in this program. Being healthy allows kids to focus on other things, like learning in school (instead of squinting in the back or having a toothache) and being happy, normal children.

The motley bi-partisan National Governors Association doesn’t like Bush’s proposal much either and has sent numerous letters to the President and Congress about the need for more money and fewer restrictions at the federal level.

Bush, however, somehow believes that expanding SCHIP to more middle income families is a vast left-wing conspiracy to march toward a universal single-payer health system.

Okay, maybe that part’s true for some of us, but I doubt that the intention for the insurers and hospitals and other industry types that support SCHIP expansion. Meanwhile, Bush’s proposal yanks away health care from the most vulnerable children.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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