Families USA released a report today that has hit the Star Tribune on the 45,000+ Minnesotans that have now lost their health insurance by losing their jobs. This is quite a scary number, and it certainly points to the need to reform our broken insurance system. However, there is a line in the Star Tribune story on this report that would almost slip by you if you weren’t careful. It both points to the need for health insurance reform AND the positive effects of a program designed to take care of those who need it the most…lets see if we can pick it out:
The states with the biggest losses are California (661,600), Texas (396,900), Florida (297,600), New York (253,100) and North Carolina (184,700). By contrast, the number of uninsured children stayed stable due to public coverage for children through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Find it? Right after listing the hundreds of thousands of people who are newly uninsured, the story notes that children in these families have not suffered the same fate. The reason? Super socialist/evil/mean government run health insurance! This is not really surprising for supporters, that is why it was developed and passed in the first place. However on a political level, with regards to the current reform effort, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the government program that uses tobacco taxes to pay for health care for poor and working poor children (in brief), is particularly useful for us to look at, because this program was just enhanced and expanded at the start of this year after George W Bush and Republicans had blocked and watered down parts of the legislation in 2007. Despite this program’s obvious success and the essential service it provides, the program has been hammered with the same attacks being shouted against President Obama’s current reform efforts.
Just take a look at some of the crazy conservative Republicans like Michele Bachmann have talked about this program, which is now preventing millions of children from suffering the same fate as their parents in going uninsured, I promise you’ll recognize a few:
"[B]ecause now President Obama even voted for the SCHIP bill, which we all know will now for the first time swing the door wide open for illegal aliens. I know one thing: The people in my district are not interested in paying for the health care for illegal aliens that are coming across our border to be yet one more magnet to bring people in that should come here legally." (Michele Bachmann, from Minnesota Independent, 3/18/09)
Rep. King of Iowa introduced a new acronym for the program. He called it the, "“Socialized Clinton-style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents” (Think Progress, 10/18/07)
Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida had his own little acronym, "Socialized, Cuba-style Health care for Illegals and their Parents" (Think Progress, 10/18/07)
Yet none of these Glen Beck styled conspiracies about coverage for non-citizens, socialism running around lawless, a government takeover and the end of the private insurance market have come true. What has happened, though, is that millions of children are now getting access to the care that they need, staying out of expensive emergency room visits keeping costs down for everyone, and allowing their parents to sleep a little easier at night. Something that isn’t happening for adults because of the powerful interests that have blocked reform in the past are gearing up to fight yet again.
The point is, folks, that all of the theatrics about the current reform effort are just the same old sick scam that conservative Republicans have trotted out against every reform effort that may dip in to insurance company profits, including successful ones like the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. We need to extend the same access to all people that we fought so hard for to give to our children. Head over to our health care website and learn about past attempts to distract from and destroy reform, and then share it with your friends. If you’re more the phone type, make a call to your legislator about the urgent need for real health insurance reform for all Americans.