Do Conservatives Want Gabrial To Breathe?

Bill Scher

Last week, Florida’s Brevard County met Lukas, who is alive thanks to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the program congressional conservatives want Bush to veto.

This week, Buffalo, N.Y., met Gabrial. From the Buffalo News:

Brian and Kelly Scozzaro were paying upwards of $500 a month for medication to keep their young son Gabrial’s allergies and asthma under control.

As a result, even though both Scozzaros have good jobs, the South Buffalo family was feeling squeezed.

“We were practically on the brink of bankruptcy,” Kelly Scozzaro said.

But that was before she and her husband got promotions and before the family enrolled its children in Child Health Plus, the state-federal children’s health insurance program that’s aimed at helping working families.

“It was pretty much a godsend,” Kelly Scozzaro said. “They pay everything — the co-pays, the medicine . . . When they told me we didn’t have to pay anything, I almost started crying.”

But Child Health Plus now finds itself at the fulcrum of Washington’s debate over the American health care system and how involved the government should be in it.

The federal program [SCHIP] that spawned Child Health Plus will expire Sept. 30 unless Congress reauthorizes it, and Democrats and Republicans remain deeply divided over how to do that.

Democrats want to expand the program to many more middle-income families, but President Bush has vowed to veto any broad expansion of the program, saying it would cost way too much and, in essence, be the beginning of socialized medicine.

The area’s conservative congresspeople — Reps. Thomas Reynolds and Randy Kuhl — got off light in the piece, portrayed as critical of Bush’s draconian (apparently illegal) SCHIP restrictions, without having mentioned that they voted against the House SCHIP bill.

But the local media can’t mask that forever, especially if Reynolds and Kuhl vote to sustain Bush’s expected veto. They’re going to have to answer to Gabrial and his parents.

As will many more congresspeople, if they dare choose to go down with Bush’s ship on SCHIP.

Because there’s a lot of kids who are alive thanks to SCHIP, and a lot of kids in danger if we don’t expand it.

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