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MYTH: SCHIP is a scheme to bring about “socialized” medicine.
FACT: No, it’s not. SCHIP was created in 1997 by the Clinton administration AND a Republican Congress to provide health insurance to children of families who do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance. It is a federally-assisted, state-run program that contracts with selected private insurers.
MYTH: SCHIP covers illegal aliens.
FACT: No, it doesn’t. It also doesn’t cover legal immigrants until they have been in the United States for five years.
MYTH: SCHIP gives taxpayers’ money to people with $80,000 a year incomes.
FACT: No, it doesn’t. It does cover those who earn up to three times the poverty level, or around $60,000 for a family of four, the very segment of society that is fast losing this employer benefit. Under the old bill, the state of New York did request federal permission to raise its coverage to $80,000, because of the high cost of living in that state. The Bush administration rejected New York’ s request.
MYTH: SCHIP funds more adults than children.
FACT: No, it doesn’t. Fewer than 10 percent of SCHIP recipients are adults. They were covered when President Bush allowed states to adapt the SCHIP program to certain state needs and preferences with federal approval. Eleven states, for example, cover pregnant women. The bill Bush vetoed already addressed this problem by phasing single adults out of the program.
President Bush and 156 members of Congress had to make a tough choice this fall concerning health care. So did Joshua Clements.
In December Bush for the second time vetoed reauthorization and expansion of the widely-popular State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The administration is opposed to Americans choosing government health care programs over private insurers.
For Clements, his decision to go with a state-run health insurance program was purely practical. Hired as a nonunion contractor at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Mich., his benefits package would have cost him “a good chunk of change” to cover every family member, according to his mother, UAW Local 1811 President Berteen Ewles.
“Josh and Sara figured out they couldn’t afford to cover themselves and Kaedin, their 5-month-old son, too,” said Ewles, who heads the amalgamated TOP local in Flint.
“So they chose to keep Kaedin on the MiChild program. Besides, putting him under Josh’s plan at work would have meant less coverage than he was already getting under MiChild.”
MiChild is Michigan’s version of SCHIP. Nationwide, the federally-funded, state-run program covers 6.6 million low-income children. The bill passed by Democrats in Congress but vetoed by President Bush, would have expanded the program, to insure 3.8 million more kids.
Kaedin’s mom, Sara Gorton, is a full-time student who is finishing up six years of nursing training at the University of Michigan-Flint. When she graduates and enters the workforce, she may have a chance to switch her young son to an employer-provided insurance plan.
Meantime, the program helps this young couple get on its feet while keeping their baby healthy. On SCHIP since birth, Kaedin is seen by his own pediatrician once a month. On the weekend Kaedin fell from his chair onto the floor, Josh and Sara were able to reach his doctor directly. Under MiChild, there are no charges for trips to the emergency room, and no co-pays for prescriptions.
“When I heard that President Bush had vetoed the SCHIP bill, I was mortified,” said Ewles, Kaedin’s grandmother. “How could he even think of doing something like that?”
Ewles takes action every time she receives UAWire or other email messages concerning SCHIP and encourages Josh and Sara to do the same. “As people on this planet, we have to hold our representatives’ feet to the fire,” she said.
At press time, Democratic and Republican congressional representatives were still trying to hammer out a compromise around SCHIP that both parties – and families like Kaedin’s – can live with.