Although the recent votes on SCHIP in Congress were not completely divided along partisan lines, the vetoed bill to expand SCHIP by $35 billion was supported by far more Democrats than Republicans. From Colorado, Senator Wayne Allard, and US Rep Marilyn Musgrave, both Republicans, voted against the bill. And within the state legislature, there is fierce debate on this issue, with both sides looking for a “win” rather than a compromise.
One comment from Marilyn Musgrave struck me as odd:
Musgrave said she supported extending the program (SCHIP), but that the bill passed by Congress “missed the mark.”
“Low-income children in this bill get short-changed because benefits are extended to families making three times the poverty level,” she said in response to an e-mail question.
How does this work? If I get a great new job, and then my neighbor gets hired at the same place, how does that detract from my success? If the low income children are getting coverage, how are they being short-changed when children from slightly higher-income families also get coverage? No one is proposing taking coverage away from families in poverty in order to provide coverage to middle class families.
It seems that some of the more conservative lawmakers (Musgrave fits nicely in this category) feel threatened by the possibility that people who are not living in abject poverty might qualify for some state or federal assistance. What they fail to see is that when everyone has access to health insurance and quality health care, the whole system will function better for everyone – including those of us who already pay for our own health insurance. When hospitals and providers are no longer straining under the weight of providing care for uninsured patients, they can charge less money for each procedure, since far more bills will get paid. People will get health care in a more timely fashion when they need it, meaning that potentially big (and expensive) problems can be caught when they are easier to treat. And children will have health insurance whether their families can afford it or not – a worthy project indeed.