Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Who Needs Health Care When We Have Emergency Rooms?

In light of Mr. Bush's remarks regarding health care access and local emergency rooms (obviously, he's never sat in one with a non-life threatening case and tried to get help in under an hour), I could only roll my eyes in response to this headline:

Rules May Limit Health Program Aiding Children

The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for New York, California and others to extend coverage to children in middle-income families.

Administration officials outlined the new standards in a letter sent to state health officials on Friday evening, in the middle of a monthlong Congressional recess. In interviews, they said the changes were intended to return the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children and to make sure the program did not become a substitute for private health coverage.

(emphasis mine)

I'm angry about this, because obviously, the states are trying to provide health care for children. And why would we want to extend any help to the middle class, or rather, the people who are desperately trying to cling to middle class standing? The Bush Administration is almost devoted to wiping out the middle class and recreating the Old Europe standard of the Three Estates (The Aristocracy, the Clergy, and the Peasants).

When I continued reading and looked at the standards for what qualified as "low-income" and therefore eligible for CHIP coverage, and what qualified as "middle-income" and not eligible, I was almost appalled. Actually, strike that, I was definitely appalled.

The poverty level for a family of four is set by the federal government at $20,650 in annual income. Many states have received federal permission to cover children with family incomes exceeding twice the poverty level — $41,300 for a family of four. In New York, which covers children up to 250 percent of the poverty level, the Legislature has passed a bill that would raise the limit to 400 percent— $82,600 for a family of four — but the change is subject to federal approval.

My salary is in the "twice the poverty level" range, and I have to say, I probably couldn't survive on that salary alone, let alone try to cover a family of four on that. Has the federal government priced housing in New England metro areas lately? When you're done paying for the roof over your head, and the utilities to keep warm (including, say, oil, hrmph!) how on earth do you bundle health care in with food, gas (!!), clothes, etc. Health insurance eats a significant portion of your "leftover" income. It's simply untenable.

I also like the bit about ensuring that CHIP doesn't replace private health care coverage. That's they whole point: privatization. Allow insurance companies to keep premiums high and deny coverage through privatization. Because the point of health insurance is to make corporations rich, not provide chemotherapy to cancer patients or anti-depressants to depression patients or anything.

It's a good thing that I work somewhere with good health insurance coverage. Because this administration makes me sick.