Newspapers Discuss State Children's Health Insurance Program Rules
State Children's Health Insurance Program
Several newspapers recently published editorials discussing new rulesthat would limit SCHIP coverage to the lowest-income children, as wellas the pending reauthorization of the program. Summaries appear below.
- Akron Beacon Journal:The move by the Bush administration to "severely restrict the capacityof state governments to expand SCHIP" is a "blatant and unfortunate endrun around Congress," a Beacon Journal editorial states."The losers in this maneuver are the nine million children for whomhealth insurance remains a luxury," the editorial states, adding, "Thepriority of the White House appears to be to protect private insurancerather than reduce the number of uninsured children" (Akron Beacon Journal, 8/23).
- Bergen Record:"The White House is worried" that SCHIP might "take the place ofprivate insurance," but "[s]omeone should tell the president he haslittle to worry about in that regard" because private insurance plansfor families "are simply too expensive for most low- and middle-incomefamilies to afford," according to a Record editorial. Theeditorial continues, "The administration's efforts to shrink thecurrent program through both budget cutbacks and restrictions on whocan be enrolled will have one effect: making children sicker." Itconcludes, "It's too bad the president isn't as worried about sickchildren as he is about the health of private insurers" (Bergen Record, 8/22).
- Des Moines Register:The "message coming from the Bush administration" is that "George Bushis in the White House" and he "makes the rules," according a Registereditorial. "Congress must craft the reauthorization so it clarifiesrules and federal authority for an administration intent on limiting"SCHIP, the editorial continues, adding, "It must make clear that theprogram will be expanded." It concludes that "in this democracy, mostpeople want children to have health insurance" (Des Moines Register, 8/22).
- Detroit Free Press:The Bush administration, "rather than trying to undermine the program'sexpansion while crowing about the need for unspecified alternatives,"should work "seriously with states to make SCHIP more effective," a Free Presseditorial states. The editorial adds, "As it is, the White House isallowing its philosophical objections to keep needy children from beingable to see a doctor," adding, "Public policy couldn't get any moreshortsighted, or cruel." According to the editorial, Congress "could,and should, override the policy," and states "should continue toexperiment with ways to help families that can't afford insurance" (Detroit Free Press, 8/23).
- Houston Chronicle:"When lawmakers return to Washington next month, they must swiftly moveto pass an authorization bill that counters the onerous regulationswith a reasonable, well-funded approach to making health insuranceavailable for the children of working-class parents," according to a Chronicleeditorial. It concludes, "Instead of demonizing SCHIP as federalizedmedicine, the Bush administration should be willing to expand on itssuccess" (Houston Chronicle, 8/21).
- Las Vegas Review-Journal:Democratic lawmakers maintain that "they're trying to help poorchildren and that anyone who opposes" SCHIP expansion "(and the taxincreases needed to pay for it) is a heartless miser who's apathetictoward a permanent underclass of uninsured sick kids," a Review-Journaleditorial states. The editorial adds, "The problem with such claims isthat the federal government already has a partnership with states toprovide health care to the poor. It's called Medicaid, and itsliabilities are already swallowing greater and greater slices ofstates' funding pies." The editorial states, "President Bush's ordershould put Congress on a more fiscally sensible path when it meets towork out differences between House and Senate plans," adding, "Iflawmakers don't make satisfactory compromises, he should veto thelegislation" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/22).
- Los Angeles Times:"Preventing poor children from seeing a doctor is politically unpopularand deeply immoral, which explains the Bush administration's attempt tohide its efforts to do precisely that," a Times editorialstates. "Recognizing that even his threatened veto might not stop anexpansion of the program because the Senate bill passed with abipartisan, veto-proof majority, Bush is trying to sidestep Congressentirely" through the rules, the editorial states, adding, "When theHouse and Senate reconcile their SCHIP bills, they should legislate theBush administration's clarifications into the trash bin" (Los Angeles Times, 8/23).
- Memphis Commercial Appeal:"Losing the battle with Congress" over SCHIP expansion, the Bushadministration has "issued new guidelines for the program that couldstymie its progress after all," according to a Commercial Appealeditorial. The editorial states, "The president's determination toprotect the private insurance industry demonstrates loyalty to theinterests that put him in office," adding, "It's unfortunate that --unless Democrats in Congress are able to reverse this decision -- morechildren will go without insurance coverage as a result" (Memphis Commercial Appeal, 8/22).
- New York Daily News:The Bush administration's new SCHIP rules would make it "practicallyimpossible" for states to enroll children in families with annualincomes greater than 250% of the federal poverty level, according to a Daily Newseditorial. A plan by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) to cover childrenin families with annual incomes up to 400% of the poverty level "willnever get off the ground" under the new rules, the editorial says. Itcontinues, "Ditto for efforts in other states, where elected officialsare trying to ease a health care crisis the feds have ignored." Theeditorial concludes, "Congress must come to the rescue," because the"nation's children deserve nothing less" (New York Daily News, 8/22).
- Philadelphia Inquirer:The Bush administration has "opened another front in their battleagainst bipartisan support in Congress and state capitals to expandchildren's health coverage" with the announcement of the rules,according to an Inquirer editorial. "If Congress doesn'tput up a fight, the Bush policy ... would do particular harm" in states-- such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey -- that are "at the forefront onexpanding kids' access to health care," the editorial states (Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/23).
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:The Bush administration, weeks before Congress "attempts to reconcileits veto-proof foray into socialism for children's health care," has"fired a welcome shot across its bow" with the announcement of therules, the Tribune-Review writes in an editorial.According to the editorial, critics of the rule should "get cracking intrying to help the truly needy by reaching the new 95% threshold" inthe event that they "don't want to be labeled the subterraneansocialist hypocrites they are" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 8/22).
- San Francisco Chronicle:Neither Bush nor Congress should "allow this country's vulnerablechildren to get caught up" in the "ideological morass" over efforts toexpand health insurance to more adults, a Chronicleeditorial states. "Bush must back off his restrictions, and Congressmust go forward with the Senate's bill" to expand SCHIP, the editorialstates, adding, "Covering uninsured adults needs to be done, all right,but it needs to be done as part of a national program to overhaul ourhealth care system," not "as part of a children's program" (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/23).
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer:The Bush administration's opposition to SCHIP is "too much on the sideof insurance companies and not at all on the side of working families,"according to a Post-Intelligencer editorial. Theeditorial continues, "We don't think the president has become acompassionless conservative toward children and families," but "he haspicked a callously partisan fight." It concludes, "The president shouldrecall what feel like long-ago promises of cooperation to work withCongress on compromises that expand coverage significantly, effectivelyand, yes, compassionately" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/21).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.