Attacking Sick Children

Attacking Sick Children October 9, 2007

The opponents of the S-CHIP program will go to any length to block its expansion. First, they tried to bamboozle everybody by arguing that the program would cover children in households earning up to $83,000. Except this was patently false. The bill stays within the boundaries of current law, limiting funds to families at twice the federal poverty level ($20,650 for a family of four, for a program limit of $41,300). States that want to go higher would need federal approval, just as they do today. The $83,000 number comes from a request from New York that was denied.

Of course, what really concerns opponents is that it will lead to people moving from private to public health insurance. I fail to see the problem with that, especially if the latter is more efficient and cost effective (as it is in the US). But this claim too is a gross exaggeration. According to Peter Orczag at the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation would add 5.8 million children by 2012: 3.8 million would be uninsured, and 2 million would have had private insurance beforehand. So we are talking about nearly 4 million children without insurance today, who will gain insurance, all for a minuscule cost in the overall budget (Bush comes very late in the game when it comes to fiscal discipline). The additional cost to achieve this is $35 billion, a mere drop in the budgetary pond. By the way, the Iraq occupation will cost an extra $190 billion in the same budget.

With facts not on their side, the opponents then did something quite horrendous: they engaged in personal attacks on sick children. It turns out that the Democrats highlighted a 12-year old boy named Graeme Frost to tout the program. Graeme and his sister were both injured in a severe car accident a few years back and received health care under S-CHIP. Immediately, the attack machine went on high alert. Some far-right site called Free Republic led the assault, claiming that Frost was an undeserving recipient, as he lives in a big fancy house and attends a private school that costs $40,000 a year in tuition. The National Review chimed in (this was Mark Steyn, who never let a fact get in the way of a good story), as did Michelle Malkin, Powerline, and the Weekly Standard. Malkin even decided to stalk them, prowling outside their house, and looking in their windows. Oh yes, and Catholic blogger Gerald from The Cafeteria Is Closed also jumped on the bandwagon.

And while these denizens or morality attacked sick children and their parents, they never bothered pointing out some basic facts, such that the school only charges Graeme $500 a year, and the state pays for his sister, who still suffers brain injuries. They never bothered pointing out that they bought their house 16 years ago for $55,000 when that part of Baltimore was decidedly dodgy. The combined family income is $45,000. Both parents work, and neither gets health insurance through work. Private insurance would cost them $1200 a month, more than their mortgage. Plus they would never to able to attain insurance for a severely handicapped daughter.

This attack speaks volumes about the depraved amorality that is now common in certain corners of the right. It is a nihilism in service of ideology. And these are the people who are supposed to be concerned with promoting family values and safeguarding public morality?

Next, they will be telling us that S-CHIP leads to abortion. Oh, wait

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