Bush: Too Many Kids With Health Insurance

Bill Scher

Since President Bush has made it clear he will not sign any universal health insurance plan into law, the short-term goal of congressional leaders is to get coverage to more of the 8-9 million children uninsured in America.

But Mr. Compassionate Conservative will “strenuously resist” even that, so reported the NY Times Sunday.

Furthermore, the Bushies are complaining that our present programs are covering too many children. From the NY Times:

[Bush] Administration officials … expressed concern about a sharp increase in the proportion of children covered by public programs in the last decade…

…“The original intent of the Children’s Health Insurance Program was to cover low-income children who were uninsured,” [Bush official Dennis] Smith said in an interview. Democratic proposals to cover millions of additional children “would change the complexion of the program and take it away from its original intent,” he said.

The Bush administration says it wants to “refocus the program on low-income uninsured children.”

Mr. Bush has proposed reducing federal payments to the states for coverage of children with family incomes exceeding twice the poverty level. At least 17 states already cover children above that level, and governors in several other states are trying to expand eligibility by raising the income limit.

“Refocusing” on low-income children is a sly way to sound compassionate. But in reality, it means leaving millions of kids out in the cold.

The poverty level for a family of four is only $20,650. Plenty of families earning twice that still struggle, which is why we still have millions of uninsured children.

Eventually, we need to revamp our patchwork health care system to achieve health care for all. But in the interim, public investment into children’s health care has improved the situation — we’re doing better at covering kids than adults in recent years.

But Bush and his fellow conservatives appear eager to make the case for less health insurance for children. Try not to be blinded by all the compassion.

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