The 64,000 Children Question

As the SCHIP showdown drags on, the state officials in charge of administering the program are getting worried:

Officials in charge of the child health program in California said Tuesday that they were adopting rules to allow the state to create a waiting list and to remove some of the 1.1 million children already on the rolls.

“The stalemate in Washington is having a real impact on children here,” said Lesley S. Cummings, executive director of the agency that runs the child health program in California. “Given continued uncertainty, we will have to start dropping children from the program — 64,000 a month, starting in January — to save money. This is getting less and less hypothetical.”

So while I’m happy that the insurance industry and the Secretary of Health and Human Services are exploring the Dutch and Swiss health systems, let’s not lose sight of those whose health insurance hangs by a thread over the coming weeks.

One of the best things about the blogosphere is that it makes accessible the voices on the other side of the great chasm that divides the insured and the uninsured in this country. Here’s one of them:

[in my experience,] it’s not right, it’s not normal or natural, for a poor person to walk into the doctor’s office and not expect an all out fight with the office bill collectors, roughness and shortness in conversation from the doctors, raised eyebrows in disbelief from all concerned and a final dism[issal] of “well, you’re insurance doesn’t cover it anyway, so take lots of aspirin and you’ll feel better eventually.”

Clearly there are a great deal of policy issues we need to sort out as we move toward universal coverage. But I hope the voices of the poor can play as big a role in the conversation as those of insurance companies, doctors, and “sponsored researchers.”

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