Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Will Saxby Sink Georgia's Children?

If Sen. Chambliss were not casting his vote on SCHIP in the comfort of the Senate, and instead had to stand at the door to a Georgia doctor's office, turning away sick children, do you think he might change his mind and do the right thing by Georgia's children?

Chambliss seems quite torn about whether he can cast a vote to continue access to adequate healthcare for low income children in Georgia and across the country. I know it's a tough job being a Senator, sitting in his Washington office and engaging in an intellectual debate about whether or not we want to provide working families in Georgia with access to affordable health insurance for their children. Not to worry. If Sen. Chambliss gets too stressed or injuries his finger while voting, he can use his government provided health insurance to see his doctor.

It's easy to see why he struggles with this decision. Never mind that one in every four children in Georgia live in poverty, and 42% of Georgia's children live at or below 200% of poverty. Forget that when children live in poverty, they are at increased risk for poor health, emotional or behavioral problems, depression, anxiety and learning disabilities. Don't bother to mention that making sure that poor children have access to adequate, affordable healthcare is a key to avoiding those negative outcomes-outcomes that fill our hospitals and our jails, at the expense of taxpayers. Sen. Chambliss must stay on GOP message by tossing out buzzwords like "socialized medicine" and wringing his hands about the cost of the program to taxpayers. Funny, I haven't heard him complain about the ten billion dollars a month we spend on the war in Iraq.

Yet, at a forum in Carterville this week, Saxby Chambliss predicted an "interesting debate" in the Senate this week on the reauthorization of SCHIP, the Federal Program that undergirds Georgia's popular and effective PeachCare program. Chambliss complained about Democratic efforts to expand SCHIP, saying, "You and I and every other voter would eventually pay for that program."

I've got news for Sen. Chambliss. We're ALL already paying for the failure to make sure that every child has access to quality, affordable healthcare, and if Congress fails to reauthorize SCHIP, that cost will skyrocket. This is literally a pay me now or pay me later proposition, and the smart money is on SCHIP. In the end, isn't providing access to healthcare for children just the right thing to do-the moral thing to do?

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1 comment:

Tina said...

People forget that health affects learning. Georgia keeps coming up with more and different tests but our state legislators, our congressmen, and our senators need to remember that old saw from "Education classes": "The whole child goes to school." Healthy well-nourished children who get the medical, dental, and eye care they need will do better in school. We have way too many children in Georgia with untreated medical-dental problems and uncorrected vision/hearing problems.