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|Lancaster, Chester, Berks Counties, PA||April 22, 2008 Election|
Congress Roadblocks Children's' Health Care Programs
By Bruce A. SlaterCandidate for US Representative; District 16; Democratic Party
This information is provided by the candidate
There is a long list of grievances that the constituents of the 16th Congressional District have about Congress. Among them is the failure and/or refusal to support and protect the health of the children of our District.Despite initial passage of the S-CHIP Bill, Congress was unwilling to override two separate vetoes of this essential legislation by President Bush.
The modest spending increase that Congress finally approved for the popular children's health insurance program will barely maintain coverage for those children already enrolled. And many children who will still lack insurance cannot be added to SCHIP programs.
SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, helps states, like Pennsylvania, to cover uninsured kids. In 2007, Congressional Democrats proposed a substantial spending increase for the federal-state partnership known as the SCHIP. Many Congressional Republicans embraced the idea. Meanwhile, states all over the country drew up plans to expand health coverage to our uninsured children.
After President Bush vetoed the SCHIP bill twice, many states had to suspend their SCHIP plans indefinitely. The expansion of SCHIP that most Republican and Democrat lawmakers overwhelmingly supported has been scaled back to previous years' spending levels. Instead of the planned enrollment increase from 6 million children to 10 million, some analysts say the number of children actually getting SCHIP coverage may still decline in 2008.
Typically, many states provide health coverage for families with incomes up to twice the federal poverty level - $34,340 - for a family of three. To cover more children, those states planned to increase the income eligibility level. The Pennsylvania CHIP program provides no cost coverage to a family of three earning a maximum of $34,340.00, low-cost coverage to a family of three earning up to $51, 510.00, and full-cost coverage to a family of three earning in excess of 51 Thousand Dollars. (View all eligibility income limits at http://www.chipcoverspakids.com.)
Opponents of the legislation have said any expansion should not allow middle-income families to drop private coverage for the publicly supported coverage even though the cost of private coverage is increasing at annual rates in excess of ten to 20 percent per year. They have insisted that SCHIP retain a new Bush administration directive that makes it harder for states to cover middle-income children.
I have criticized this position: "Why do some members of Congress not understand about trying to house, clothe, and feed a family of four with a disposable income of less than $3,000.00 per month? Health insurance premiums are escalating at alarming rates and families with private insurance are often forced to drop health coverage just to put food on the table and gas in the car to get to work. Saving for a child's higher education has become a luxury that few low and middle-income families can afford. But health insurance is basic and those families are being priced out of the market.
"When Congressional Representatives say they are afraid that the SCHIP expansion is just one more step towards a national health care program for all citizens. I say they are protecting their campaign contributors like the health insurance companies and pharmaceuticals and jeopardizing the health and welfare of our District's and nation's children.
"Research shows that uninsured kids are sicker and are more likely to die in hospitals than children with health insurance. The $35 billion increase that was proposed is a small price to pay for the health of all of our children. It will be recouped over and over in the decades to come because our children got a healthy start.
"This position is not about saving tax dollars. It is about enriching those who profit from our children being sick. It is about keeping money flowing to campaign chests.* It is should be about keeping our children healthy, but that is not the case! I will, like the all of Pennsylvania's Democrats in our Congressional delegation (and most the Republicans, too) support this program, because children are the best investment in America today."
Specifics about the campaign contributions received by our incumbent Congressman can be found on my website, http://www.slaterforcongress.com.
Position Paper 3
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