Tomorrow, the conservative minority in the House is expected to sustain President Bush’s second veto of expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
SCHIP has already successfully provided health coverage to six million kids, but nine million more remained uninsured. The bipartisan compromise bill would extended coverage to four million more kids, and even that was too compassionate for Bush and his fellow conservatives.
Last year’s veto happened before the threat of recession loomed large. If more middle-class families are squeezed as the economy shrinks, many more kids will join the ranks of the uninsured.
No child, or adult, should go without health coverage regardless where our GDP is at any given moment. But as our economic struggles become more pronounced, it’s more imperative that we marshal our public resources to get us back on track.
Uninsured kids not only are at a greater health risk themselves. The problem drags down the entire economy, with children not getting preventative care, relying on emergency rooms and driving up health care costs.
Beyond the short-term threat of recession, the economy has deep long-term problems. The way out involves public investment in ourselves, strengthening our country’s foundations so we all can thrive.
There’s no greater investment in the future than our children. Someone once said they shouldn’t be left behind.