President Bush’s Message to Virginia’s Children

I don’t usually comment on national issues but this one is impossible to let pass.  And it directly effects thousands of children living in Virginia today.

For years, the Federal government has been trying to expand health care coverage to children, especially those whose families do not quality for Medicaid but lack the resources for private insurance.   The Federal program is called State Children’s Health Insurance Program or “SCHIP.”

This is a bipartisan program and a popular one.  During my time in the Assembly, we took justifiable pride in our SCHIP-funded program, which aggressively reached Virginia children.  For the first time in many cases, they got regular check-ups and health care.

Just this past week, the Bush administration has reversed course.  They are now severely cutting back the SCHIP allocation, which funds state programs like FAMIS.  The rationale is that SCHIP represents “excessive spending” and is taking business from private health insurers.

Are you kidding me?

The whole reason for programs like SCHIP is the total failure of private insurers to provide affordable health insurance for middle-class families.  With over one million uninsured Virginians, this problem is getting worse.   

In my own family, we pay nearly $1,000 a month for two adults and three children.  Every year, these premiums get higher and higher.  And the care is not better. 

I can cover that on my salary but can the average middle-class family?

SCHIP and FAMIS fill an important gap in the marketplace.  They give a few years of gauranteed health insurance for our children.  The price tag is pretty damn small compared to other things the Feds buy — and the cost of long-term sicknesses that go undetected.

We need these programs.  They work.  Let’s hope Congress restores SCHIP funding for Virginia’s kids.

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