The New York Times yesterday reported that the Bush administration said it would “strenuously resist” plans to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which funds California’s Healthy Families.
They annoyingly “expressed concern about a sharp increase in the proportion of children covered by public programs in the last decade.”
If businesses wouldn’t keep dropping family coverage or making it harder for workers to cover their families, then maybe fewer children would need to be enrolled in public programs.
During the economic downturn, from 2000 to 2002, the number of businesses covering children dropped by 2.5 percent. In the same period, state and federal government saw a 2.9 percent increase in children enrolling in public programs. In spite of this administration — and their friends in the business community, these programs have continued to grow.
Now, Bush is unwisely trying to restrict growth in these programs by reauthorizing the bare minimum ($30 billion over five years) for SCHIP, and making fewer children eligible. Meanwhile he’s doing nothing to encourage more coverage on the other end.
Advocates, on the other hand, say we need about $85 billion over the next five years to do a good job. Surely, we can find $17 billion A YEAR for children’s coverage if we’ve been able to find $413 billion for war the past five years. According to this fun calculator, we could have covered about 250 million kids by now.
It’ll be interesting to see where the presidential candidates fall on this as we debate the issue over the next few months.