Over the weekend, conservative Republican leaders began to “spin” President Bush’s expected veto of children’s heath insurance (SCHIP). They said it would cover children in families with incomes up to $83,000 per year. A Washington Post op-ed points out that “up to” is a slippery phrase. The Urban Institute estimates that 70 percent of children covered would come from families with incomes less than $41,300, and most of the rest from families earning less than $62,000 – not a luxurious income for a family of four in places with high costs of living. They said it would take children off private health insurance and move then to “government-run” health care. Wrong again. About two thirds of the approximately 10 million children who would be covered now have no health insurance whatsoever. And, the SCHIP program is a government-financed program, not a government-run program.
What the conservatives fail to answer, and what never will be answered on Fox News, is what do you do when the market has failed to provide health care for almost 50 million Americans, and those who oppose covering the kids now have literally no alternative plan in mind? Their alternative—leave millions of children without health insurance. That is immoral. Bill Gates, the richest and likely best capitalist in the world, has no trouble admitting the “market failures” in the world of health care, so why can’t the conservative Republicans? It is indeed about the children. My open letter to President Bush last Thursday still stands, and I ask once more: Mr. President, remember the poor children you used to talk about at the beginning of your administration. Let this bill pass or offer us a better plan.