Right smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, President Bush has vetoed for the second time the extension of federal funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
But is it worse that Bush vetoed it again or that the Congress doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to the President and make sure that millions of children don’t lose what meager coverage they have just days before Christmas?
Or that Congress is willing to go along with the President’s demands for yet more money for the Iraq war, yet won’t allow a fraction of that money to help children who need health insurance because — GASP — that would mean raising the cigarette tax to fund it!
Wouldn’t want to alienate the tobacco lobby during a Presidential campaign year, now would we?
Or that in the newly approved budget, Congress tucked in almost $20 billion dollars worth of “earmarks” — you know, those special interest projects that many elected representatives put in the budget at the last minute to make constituents think they’re working hard on their behalf.
I can see that there is a valid argument that perhaps there are families who are too “rich” to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid who could have access to private health insurance and wouldn’t need the SCHIP program. But I would hardly qualify families earning between $40,000 and $60,000 a year as “rich,” especially depending on where they live. And if those families don’t get health insurance through their employers, there’s a good chance they can’t afford to pay for housing and food and utilities and private health insurance.
The PunditMom family pays the full freight for health insurance and all I can say is that it is such a hefty sum that I am grateful every day that we can afford it (even though it takes forever to get through to someone on the phone to “pre-approve” certain doctor’s visits).
Here’s an idea — why don’t we get the President, who has never had to worry about how he was going to pay the mortgage or whether there was enough money to keep food on the table until the next paycheck — to have to live in a city with a high cost of living with two children to support and a mortgage and no employer provided health insurance and see how “rich” he would feel and whether his position on covering millions of kids would change.
Then, let’s make the Bush family pretend that their twins are still small children and they both get sick at the same time and there’s no money to go to the doctor and no doctor will see them without health insurance.
I know that’s a reality that Bush can’t comprehend and doesn’t want to. Because if he had to face the families whose children have died because they couldn’t get regular dental care or whose illnesses linger because they can’t get the prescriptions they need, that might require his conscience to kick in.
Merry Christmas, kids, but don’t expect the President to feel the goodwill to help you see a doctor. At least not this holiday season.