Thursday, January 17, 2008

Republican Policies Put 759,000 Children with Asthma at Risk

According to Science Daily, 759,000 children who suffer from asthma are at risk each year of suffering an attack while they have no health insurance.


About 114,000 of them lacked insurance the entire year, and were 14 times as likely to go without needed medical care.

According to the article, 70% of the 759,000 were eligible for S-CHIP. George W. Bush and and a handful of Republicans in the House of Representatives twice blocked the S-CHIP reauthorization bill which would have expanded the program to cover as many as 4 million additional uninsured children.

Childhood asthma disproportionately affects African American children in lower income families. According to a Boston University study published in 2005, African American children in poor families were at a "substantially higher risk of asthma" than white or Latino children.

Objectively, the Republican Party's successful fight to block S-CHIP expansion was a racist attack on Black children. And in my mind there is no doubt, given the Republican Party's and the Bush administration's history on these questions, that their lack of concern and even hatred is subjective too.

Also disturbing is that 30% of children with asthma who lacked health insurance at some point last year live in families above the 200% federal poverty threshold for S-CHIP eligibility. Now Republicans tried during the S-CHIP fight last summer and fall and will try to tell you these folks are rich. But they're not.

Many of these families live in places where the cost of living is so high that being at 210% or 250% or even 300% of the federal poverty level is meaningless. Try living in New York City (or San Francisco or Newark or Chicago or DC) and caring for a family of four with an income of $26,000 dollars. That is above 200% of federal poverty. But it doesn't mean you can afford private insurance.

It's time for a change. People want to know what "change" means. This is it.

The Science Daily article also provides one key piece of information that can put to rest claims by the extremist Republicans who blocked the S-CHIP bill and the insurance companies about the quality of public versus private insurance:

No differences were found between children with private and public insurance, when it came to unmet needs, discontinuity in care or poor access. This suggests that consistency of coverage for children with asthma is more important than the source of insurance. [emphasis added]

You can read more about S-CHIP in the January print edition of Political Affairs – coming soon!

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