Browsing through my BBC newsfeed this morning, I came across the following item:
Child health bill faces Bush veto
The US Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill to expand a children's health care insurance scheme, setting up a policy showdown with President Bush.
Mr Bush has threatened to veto the bill which he argues takes the programme beyond its original purpose of insuring children from low-income families.
The legislation would raise tobacco taxes to provide an extra $35bn (£17bn) to insure some 10 million children.
I am a non smoker, so the tax would not affect me, but I think it's a good idea. Maybe even expand it a little and start taxing soda sales. I'll pay $1.59 for a coke if that means children get health insurance.
Unfortunately, the bill is not a done deal:
The SCHIP was set up to help working families who could not afford private health insurance but who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid - the government health care programme for the poor.
Opponents of the legislation said the increase in funding was too large and expanded government-subsidised health care.
They also accused the legislation's backers of attempting to win political points ahead of 2008's presidential and congressional elections.
"Democrats are counting down the hours so they can tee up the election ads saying Republicans don't like kids," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"Meanwhile, they're using SCHIP as a Trojan horse to sneak government-run health care into the states," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.
Sponsors of the legislation rejected criticism that it would expand coverage to families of four earning up to $83,000.
The criticisms don't hold water in my book. Looking at the figure quoted, it seems very very high - how could someone who makes $83,000 a year not be able to afford health insurance?
Unfortunately, quite easily. Assuming you live in a major metropolitan area, salaries are high - but so is the cost of living. So that $83,000 for a family of four does not explain the realities of what it costs to feed and clothe a family - particularly if you are one of the millions of independent contractors who has to pay for insurance out of their own pocket.
So, if your 80K is tagged for rent (40%) and taxes (25%), you are really only working with $28,000 a year. Now account for food, clothing, and transportation across 4 people, with $28,000. See? The situation starts to look bleak.
And with independent health care options for a family of four STARTING at around $350 a month (esurance has some current quotes) it is no wonder why people banking $80K might struggle trying to afford the crippling cost of insurance.
I am surprised at the short memory of President Bush. At the beginning of this year, the DC area was shocked at the revelation that a child had died for the lack of proper dental care. The child had an abscess in his tooth which allowed bacteria to seep into his brain. Due to limited finances, his mother had to choose which child could receive emergency dental care - his brother was deemed a higher risk.
Fund the damn bill.
Labels: george w. bush, health care, legislation