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It truly is all a matter of ideology?

by Nick Jacobs

Let me preface this essay by saying that, I am writing this as a health care provider, a hospital CEO, and a concerned citizen.  In the past we have talked almost incessantly about the 47 million uninsured in our nation, and the lack of funding for domestic issues ranging from education to infrastructure.  (And in the spirit of full disclosure, I consider myself a moderate and don’t believe that this venue is appropriate for a political rant, but . . .)

An article in the New York Times today by Sarah Kershaw opened with this sobering piece of information, “The federal government has told New York State health officials that chemotherapy, which had been covered for illegal immigrants under a government-financed program for emergency medical care, does not qualify for coverage. The decision sets the stage for a battle between the state and federal governments over how medical emergencies are defined.”

I’m not sure what to say about this.  At our hospital the decision to treat or not to treat will remain the same. We will treat.

The Washington Post’s Christopher Lee wrote recently that, “If anything looked like a sure thing in the new Congress, it was that lawmakers would renew, and probably expand, the popular, decade-old State Children’s Health Insurance Program before it expires this year.”

This surely seems like a dream come true for any politician, something that creates a health care safety net for children who, otherwise would not have the coverage or financial wherewithal to pay for this care.  What politician would even consider vetoing an already established program that offers health insurance for kids?

Interestingly, President Bush has indicated that he will veto it.  It’s important to note that his veto will not be because he is concerned that this program doesn’t work, he has acknowledged that S-CHIP works very well.  He has also indicated that he will not veto it because it is fiscally irresponsible?  In fact, this plan is, overall, a very reasonable expenditure. Yes, he objects to any expansion of the plan, but, it appears that this will not be the only reason for his veto.

It seems that Mr. Bush’s decision to take this stand is ideological.

The program is diametrically opposed to his philosophy of government.  If you take care of kids, and that plan works, then you can take care of adults, too.  Expansion of government is not something that this president embraces.  But the administration clearly continues to embrace the Iraq war, and that costs money, lots of money.

From the New York Times, January 17, 2007 by David Leonhardt:

“…For starters, $1.2 trillion would pay for an unprecedented public health campaign” a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives.

Combined, the cost of running those programs for a decade wouldn’t use up even half our money pot. So we could then turn to poverty and education, starting with universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old child across the country. The city of New Orleans could also r