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Dash of Pepper

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The danger of using the children
By SHEILAH PEPPER
The Gazette Staff
Every Saturday morning, President Bush makes a brief radio address to the nation, often dealing with an issue that has been in the news the preceding week. This is generally countered by a prominent Democrat rebutting the President's points.
The topic on Saturday, October 6th, was the President's veto of the S-CHIP legislation. The acronym stands for State Children's Health Insurance Program
This particular morning, the Democrat rebuttal was given by a young middle school student from Baltimore. He said he had been in a serious accident three years ago and received care paid for by SCHIP.
"I was in a coma for a week and couldn't eat or stand up or even talk. My sister was even worse," he wrote. "My parents work really hard and always make sure my sister and I have everything we need, but we can't afford private health insurance."
The mainstream media didn't bother to fully check out this family's situation. The Baltimore Sun published an article stating that the family was raising their four children on a combined income of about $45,000 a year. The parents said they had checked out private health insurance and it would cost about $1,200 a month, which is more than their mortgage.
However, it turns out that the 12-year-old who delivered the Democrat rebuttal, and his sister, attend a very exclusive private school which costs $20,000 per year per student. This was researched not by a trained journalist but by a blogger on a web site.
The newspaper article baldly stated that the mother is employed by a medical publishing company and her husband was described as a "woodworker."
But hold on. The husband owns his own company, a company that also apparently owns some commercial property in Baltimore, property that was purchased in 1999 for $160,000 and may include some rental income.
The family home is in a neighborhood where a similar nearby home sold this spring for $485,000. Something doesn't add up.
Yet another blogger at a site called Insureblog checked out the $1,200 amount the parents quoted.
The quote engine for the family's zip code found a plan for $641 monthly with a zero deductible and $20 doc copays. The site indicated that adding a deductible of $750 (does not apply to doctor visits) drops the premium to $452 - almost a third of the price quoted in the newspaper article.
The White House says the President strongly supports the reauthorization of SCHIP and that his 2008 budget proposed to increase funding by $5 billion over five years - a 20 percent increase over current levels.
The President feels there are numerous problems with the SCHIP bill that arrived at his desk.
In addition to raising spending by $35 to $50 billion, the legislation turns a program meant to help poor children into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year... 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. (For a family of four that is currently $20,650) He also believes the bill would move millions of children who currently have private health insurance into government-run health care.
The Legislation also has some stealth features. One of these is the creation of new funding schemes inviting states to overspend their budgets and shift health care costs to the federal government by using SCHIP funding to offset state Medicaid spending.
I don't have enough space to go into the other "stealth" moves in the bill. They all involve INCREMENTAL steps leading down the road to socialized medicine totally controlled from Washington.
The Democrats knew Bush would veto the bill. They scarcely concealed their expectation of the political benefits they would reap as a result.
After all, the issue is SO EASY to demagogue, especially when 12-year-olds are used to sell it.
But it would a far better use of taxpayer dollars if the program actually benefits truly needy children.
If a family can afford $20,000 a year for private schooling, it certainly has its priorities messed up if it does not devote a portion of the monthly budget to health insurance.
Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2009 15:41  

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