Friday, September 28, 2007

The S-CHIP is Breaking Away
Thursday, September 20, 2007 5:25 PM
We Americans have always prided ourselves as a nation in promoting our children as our future. We push for educational reform (through plans like No Child Left Behind), and do what we can to make sure our children will be competitive in the future marketplaces. The biggest failure we have for our future is the current health care crisis facing America. S-CHIP, the state based Children's Health Insurance Program will expire at the end of the month. Currently, there is a stand off between Congress and President Bush. The biggest conflict is in regards to funding the program. Currently the plan is administered at the state level with federal funding supplementing the program at approximately $5 billion annually. The current Senate plan involves doubling the federal commitment, which is causing the stalemate.S-CHIP is an important building block in a wall to provide health insurance to all Americans. This program fills the gap for children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but will not be otherwise insured. It is reprehensible to think that millions of children may lose their medical coverage due to a standoff based more on partisan politics than what is right for our future. By scaling down or eliminating this program all together, children will be uninsured and this will cause our already strapped health care system to go into crisis overload. Many families are currently just getting by and the cost of private health insurance is so prohibitive, most will go uninsured and pray that they (and their families) do not get sick. Let's extrapolate this further. If parents do not have group health insurance through their employers, they have limited choices to get their children insured. They can purchase a private plan for either the whole family or just the child. This will run anywhere from $300-500/month for basic coverage. For most families in this situation, this is money that they do not have. If it is a choice between becoming homeless and starving vs. paying for health insurance, the best choice would be a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. Families who qualify for S-CHIP are working families. In order to qualify for Medicaid, the families would be forced to liquidate assets and no longer work. This would be disasterous for our economy. If children do not receive adequate medical care from birth (preferably pre-natal care would be provided as well), there are so many other issues that come into play. If a child is not immunized, multiply by the number of children that will be dropped from the rolls, there is a very real risk that childhood diseases we thought were eradicated will make a comeback. If a child is not followed closely by a pediatrician, developmental delays may be missed, leading to being treated later-and possibly at a point where permenant damage may ensue. By having a primary care doctor, children won't get lost in the system, and problems can be identified early. Having that contact a doctor can see if a child is gaining too much weight (or not enough). Many problems that plague children-asthma, obesity-can be easily treated and managed. Studies have shown that children who do not manage their asthma miss more days of school, therefore fall behind academically and are at a higher risk of dropping out of school. By denying children the health insurance coverage they need, it will impact this nation longer than this presidency or this congress. We can feel effects for an entire generation if we choose to forget these kids.

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