Friday, August 31, 2007

The Cruelty Jokes Return

Remember 'cruelty jokes';

"Q: Mrs. Brown, can Johnny come out and play?
A: But you know he has no arms and legs.
Q: Yeh, we wanna use him for third base."

And on it goes. Well, I suggest that the present GOPervs were schooled well in these jokes, and use them as the basis for planning health care.

Just last week we learned that the White House is not only strongly resisting a bipartisan congressional effort to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Plan to include 4 million uninsured kids in the U.S., but our “compassionate conservative” president is also forcing states to limit access for children, too.

Bush’s timing couldn’t be much worse. The latest report from the Census Bureau showed that 8.7 million kids are now uninsured. What’s more the increase — 11.7% of kids lack coverage, up from 10.9% in 2005 — is higher than in the adult population.

Since the passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997 through 2004, the program succeeded in reducing the percentage of uninsured kids, while the percentage of uninsured adults — not served by any new public insurance plan — has gone up.

But in the last two years, we’re seeing more kids go without insurance. Why? Fewer private-sector employers are providing sufficient coverage. Making the expansion of SCHIP even more critical if we are to keep our kids healthy.

Kathleen Stoll, health policy director for Families USA, said, “Despite SCHIP’s earlier success in decreasing the number of uninsured children, their numbers have risen for the second straight year because of a decline in employer-based coverage. Today census numbers only confirm what state officials and health care advocates have seen first-hand — SCHIP resources must be increased to meet the health care needs of the increasing number of uninsured children.”
New guidelines announced last week by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will require many children to be uninsured for a full year before they have access to government-subsidized coverage. The new rules effectively block New York’s already approved expansion of children’s health insurance and roll back expansions or pending plans in 17 other states and the District of Columbia.

“CMS has promulgated rules that would be devastating to the nation and to the state of New York because they will preclude us from covering every child in the state with health insurance,” said Spitzer, a Democrat who has vowed to take court action if necessary. “It is bad policy. It is a violation of the basic decency that argues in favor of giving kids health insurance."

Health insurance, of course, doesn't equate to health care, but it's the closest this cabal has come. After years of bragging about how successful their industry-friendly approach has been, the 'no arms and legs' approach seems to have become the more attractive one after all.

Today, the Cancer Society has announced that it sees such overwhelming needs for insurance, it will spend its entire $15 million advertising budget to address the consequences of inadequate health coverage.

Census figures released this week show that the number and percentage of people in the United States without health insurance rose last year, to 47 million and 15.8 percent. A 2003 study estimated that one of every 10 cancer patients was uninsured.

Other surveys have found that one of every four families afflicted by cancer, which is projected to kill 560,000 Americans this year, is effectively impoverished by the fight, including one of every five with insurance.

The retreat from public service in the past six years of GOPerv administration may never be totally wiped out. A lack of health services has already been a detriment, and sometimes death, to the impoverished.

As pointed out in 2005, even the possession of insurance doesn't mean a family or individual is protected from the financial consequences of illness.

Medical problems contributed to about half of all bankruptcies, involving 700,000 households in 2001, according to a story published today as a Web Exclusive by the journal Health Affairs. Families with children were especially hard hit -- about 700,000 children lived in families that declared bankruptcy in the aftermath of serious medical problems. Another 600,000 spouses, elderly parents and other dependents brought the total number of people directly affected by medical bankruptcies to more than two million annually.

Surprisingly, most of those bankrupted by medical problems had health insurance. More than three-quarters were insured at the start of the bankrupting illness. Among those with private insurance, however, one-third had lost coverage at least temporarily by the time they filed for bankruptcy.

The rest of the world is aghast at the indifference of this administration to its citizens, and it's becoming increasingly a source of wonder to U.S. citizens as well. We see states trying to struggle under the load of debt that the neo-cons have heaped on them while requiring them to take up the true weight of public services. In some cases it is leading to lawsuits like New York's.

The next elections will provide a real litmus test of the public's ability to defend itself against further depradations.

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