Friday, August 24, 2007

Health Policy: SCHIP in danger

Recently, congress passed an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to allow more children to enroll. Yay, for the kids. The Bush Administration threatened a veto claiming fears of socialized medicine. But going beyond this, the Bush Administration has issued a set of "rules" that would prevent any state from increasing their enrollment unless a slew of requirements are met:

Under the requirements, children must be without insurance for a year before they can be enrolled, and families of children in the program must pay fees for care similar to those paid by families with private insurance. In addition, the state must show that it has enrolled at least 95 percent of children below 200 percent of poverty and that the number of children insured through private companies has not dropped more than 2 percentage points over five years. The latter requirement is supposed to ensure that employers aren't dropping family coverage.
This is outrageous on a number of points. Firstly, it requires children to be without health insurance for a year in order to qualify. A lot can happen in a year (vaccinations, checkups, broken bones). Why would this Administration claim that the best way to insure children is to require them to be uninsured. Additionally, the 95% requirement is ridiculous, since most states simply can't achieve that level of enrollment. And finally, the whole point of these rules is to subvert a law passed by the legislative branch. The constitutional role of the executive is to enforce the law, not subvert it. If Bush wants to threaten a veto, then he's just a jerk who doesn't care about children, but when he continues to trample on the federal constitution then he's a criminal.

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