The Number of Virginia Residents Without Health Insurance Increased 191,000 From 1999-2000 to 2005-2006. The number of Americans without health insurance totaled 47.0 million in 2006, up 8.6 million since President Bush took office. During the 2005-2006 period, an average of 978,000 Virginia residents, 13.1 percent of the state’s population, had no health insurance – 191,000 more than during the 1999-2000 period. Furthermore, the number of Virginia’s uninsured children amounted to 9.3 percent of the state’s population under the age of 18. - The U.S. Congress, Joint Economic CommitteeWhen nearly one in ten children in Virginia goes without health insurance, the costs and risks of sick children in our community are too high. One in ten children means that two or three kids in each of your child's classes may be undertreated for such common ailments as chicken pox, bronchitis or mononucleosis. Uninsured children is a public health concern, and opposition to the most basic form of coverage for all children, SCHIP, is simply irresponsible.
The argument against SCHIP is that it is "government" insurance. But this begs the question as to whether "government" insurance is inherently a bad thing. Unemployment insurance is "government" insurance, and I am certain that our 750 neighbors who work at AOL who are losing their jobs rather appreciate that that government insurance will be there when they are laid off. Similarly, Social Security is a Federal program (though not strictly insurance, since it is pay-as-you-go) that has been remarkably successful in reducing poverty among the elderly for over seventy years.
But what about government health insurance? Well, there are many indications that on a small-scale (such as SCHIP) it is much more efficient than private insurance.
Contrary to a common assumption that private health insurance is more efficient or effective, evidence indicates that public health coverage is less expensive than private insurance and more affordable for families. Public coverage provides access to care that is usually as good as, and sometimes better than, private health insurance. - The Center on Budget PrioritiesAnd when compared with everything else the Federal Government spends money on, SCHIP is a remarkably well-designed, efficient program that actually helps solve the problem it sets out to solve. In Virginia, SCHIP is called "FAMIS" (Family Access to Medical Insurance Security), and the program is well-designed to help those most in need of assistance.
In fact, the presence of SCHIP program money in Virginia means that the Attorney General has time to tilt at Greenway toll windmills instead of investigating Virginia's health insurance companies, because only 9% of kids are uninsured. Without SCHIP, over 80,000 Virginia kids in Virginia would be without health insurance, and the Attorney General might have to do something about that. (Since he saw fit to concern himself with Greenway tolls, he certainly must have a concern for other household expenses, right?)
Frank Wolf did the right thing in voting for SCHIP, and as the senior member of the Virginia delegation in Congress, he should join Governor Kaine and lobby his colleagues to change their votes and override President Bush's veto. 80,000 Virginia children are waiting.
Unless he feels he has something better to do than help sick kids?