Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Children's health legislation expected to pass

By Jen Lynch

The Senate is expected to pass legislation tomorrow, reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), previously vetoed by President Bush. 

The program currently only covers 7 million children who are on or close to the poverty line, and it expires on March 31 this year. President Obama promised to obtain coverage for all children in the country, and the passing of SCHIP will begin this process. The new bill will give coverage to an additional 4 million children who are not eligible for Medicaid, and it will cost approximately $32 billion over the next 4 1/2 years.

Republicans tried to fight the legislation, stating their disagreement with several aspects concerning immigrants and taxpayers. Democrats want to drop the 5-year waiting period for insurance that illegal immigrants must currently undergo, which is clearly not aligned with conservative values. Republicans argue against the method of funding for the program, which will be paid for by increasing the cigarette tax by 61 cents a pack ($0.39 to $1). They also believe that middle-income families who are making enough to afford private insurance, will simply choose SCHIP instead, further burdening taxpayers for possible expanding coverage in the future and increasing dependence on the government. However, these suggested alternatives were immediately rejected, this one by a 65-32 vote. 

Those against SCHIP believe that we need to choose between fixing the economy or fixing the healthcare system, but many believe that by fixing healthcare, the economy will also improve. Sure the costs of implementing a new process and system will be high at first, but universal health care will help balance medical costs and allow our government to control costs and eventually lower overall health care spending.  Plus, children who are currently unable to receive necessary medical attention, will now be able to stay healthy, therefore substantially lowering the chance of additional health issues in the future. We need to make sure all of our children are healthy now, so that as their generation ages, the need for expensive medications or aid from the government will decrease.  

Sources for this post:
Washington Post Article

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