Wednesday, October 3, 2007
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Gwinnett Daily Post
The underlying argument behind Sadie Fields' opinion ("SCHIP shouldn't become the start of socialized medicine for everyone," Perspective, Oct. 2) perpetuates the same, tired misconceptions used by opponents of SCHIP (State Children's Insurance Program) expansion. But as is usual in policy disagreements involving children, there has been very little attention given to their needs.
Indeed, political bickering in Washington has shifted attention away from children's health. Many of the arguments against expanding SCHIP would be more credible if the president were proposing a renewal that would at least maintain this successful program, which funds about 75 percent of Georgia's PeachCare for Kids. The Congressional Budget Office has said the $5 billion increase over five years proposed by the administration could not sustain current enrollment levels.
Recent Census Bureau figures show the number of uninsured children grew to nearly 9 million after years of steady decline. Most of the newly uninsured children in 2006 were in families with incomes between two and four times the poverty levels. Most of these people are not currently eligible for SCHIP. Meanwhile, employer-sponsored insurance continues to drop, further diminishing access to affordable insurance.
Evidence overwhelmingly shows that healthy children equal a healthy long-term bottom line for states. Georgia voters understand this notion, with 8 out of 10 in a recent statewide poll by Voices for Georgia's Children saying children should have what they need to be healthy.
Expansion of SCHIP should be seen as a sound investment, not an entitlement.