Ensuring health care for low-income kids

October 22
October 22, 2007
Richard Weaver
October 24, 2007

Washington, D.C., has been in a stalemate on the debate over the best way to provide health care coverage to low-income children.

I support the State Children Health Insurance Program in its original form that provides coverage to poor children. Some in Congress are trying to expand that program well beyond the boundaries of poor children so that it is a pre-cursor to Washington-run, government-dominated health care for everyone.

That path would be a grave mistake.

A proposal covering adults and families making up to $80,000 through SCHIP was recently vetoed by the president. I support that veto because SCHIP was originally designed to be a program to provide a safety net for poor children, not families that can afford private school tuition – an abuse already happening under the program.

Congress must stop talking endlessly and trying to score political points and come together around a practical compromise – a resolution that advances health care reform, particularly for poor children.

It is a mistake of enormous proportions to expand the program like this because it will actively push people off private insurance and move our health care policy in the opposite direction of where it should be going.

The bill vetoed by the president would have pushed a great number of people off of private insurance in a government incentive-based race to the bottom.

It’s estimated that 40 to 50 percent of children that are either currently covered under SCHIP or that would become eligible under the SCHIP expansion would drop their private insurance to enroll in SCHIP.

Expanding SCHIP into a Trojan horse for Washington-run healthcare is moving us in the wrong direction.

That’s why I support alternatives that further the goal of health care for all American families with tax credits that can make private coverage available and affordable.

We need to provide a real SCHIP reauthorization focused on poor children and extend coverage to pregnant women and their children in the womb, as well as offer tax credits to encourage more Americans to seek private coverage.

I believe a compromise is clearly within striking distance if we have the political will to come together around these ideals – reauthorizing SCHIP for the truly poor and giving low-income families more tools to make health insurance available and affordable.

Please let me know about any issues of importance to you and your family by contacting me at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623. You can also reach me on the web at http://vitter.senate.gov.