But Who’s Counting?

Yesterday our President was in the Rose Garden criticizing Congress for spending too much money. He has let it be known that he will veto their proposed increase of 5 billion a year in spending for children’s health care. “Can’t afford it,” says George.

Meanwhile the bill for the Iraq War goes up while you watch: $200,000 a minute and $450 billion to date. We could have insured 50 million children a year with that money.

This week, Congress takes up renewal of S-CHIP, or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program which provides health care for children whose family income isn’t low enough to qualify for Medicaid. States administer the program with about $5 billion in annual support from the federal government, and a renewal likely to be approved by the Senate would more than double that amount over the next five years. President Bush is threatening to veto the legislation.

“The program is going beyond the initial intent of helping poor children,” Bush said at an appearance in Cleveland last week. “It’s now aiming at encouraging more people to get on government health care. . . . It’s a way to encourage people to transfer from the private sector to government health-care plans. . . . I think it’s wrong, and I think it’s a mistake.”

But is government health care such a bad idea? If so, why are our children in poorer health than those of the countries that have government programs?

Lack of insurance coverage means children don’t get preventive care and wind up with worse problems that cost more to care for – and we pay for that eventually anyway.

Adequate health care for children costs less in the long run – and a lot less than a war that is solving no problems and draining the resources we need for our children.

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