Do Conservatives Want Lukas To Breathe?

Bill Scher

Brevard County newspaper Florida Today explains who SCHIP helps, and helpfully notes who voted against it:

Lukas Richmond started wheezing again this week.

The boisterous Titusville 8-year-old missed 52 days of school last year because of severe asthma and allergies — he fell ill with pneumonia four times. Wednesday, his mother, Leigh Richmond, took Lukas back to the Children’s Medical Services clinic in Rockledge for another round of respiratory testing.

The result? More expensive drugs for Lukas, though “he’s on enough medicine to make a person’s head spin,” Richmond said.

Like 5,805 other Brevard County children, Lukas relies on Florida KidCare for medical coverage, an initiative funded by the federal State Children’s Health Insurance Program

“It’s been a lifesaver for Lucas,” Leigh said.

But Richmond and others worry the end may be near: SCHIP expires Sept. 30, and Congress has not determined the program’s fate.

SCHIP provides health coverage for 225,593 Florida youngsters from low-income households who do not qualify for Medicaid. A study has shown most of the recipients are black or Hispanic, live in poverty and went without any health insurance before signing up for the program.

Supporters fear if Congress doesn’t agree to continue the funding, tens of thousands of poor children in Florida alone and millions more across the country will go without regular medical care or flood already busy emergency rooms, driving up health care costs for everyone. Critics argue the tax-funded program has stretched beyond its original aim and is vulnerable to abuse.

Last month, an $86 billion reauthorization bill providing coverage for 5 million children passed the House by a 225-204 vote, a measure President Bush threatened to veto. The Senate proposed and passed a more modest, $35 billion version that would cover 1 million fewer children nationwide.

Both of Brevard County’s representatives — Tom Feeney,
R-Oviedo, and Dave Weldon, R-Indialantic — voted against the House bill.

How many more conservative congresspeople want kids like Lukas highlighted in their local papers?

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