Whenever a national politician wants to dodge an important question, he or she usually replies that the issue at hand should be left up to the individual states. Whether it is gay marriage or stem-cell research, saying the states should decide is always a safe answer.
Unfortunately, a few states have tried to fix a significant problem the federal government has failed to act on-the problem of not providing health care to children-and the person standing in the way is President Bush.
Last week, the state of New York requested use of the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan to help give health care to more of New York’s children. However, Bush had other plans.
According to Bloomberg.com on Sept. 7, Bush rejected the state’s request, because he claimed it did more than SCHIP originally intended. He claimed that allowing New York to offer assistance to some families who earn up to $82,000 would cause them to drop their private insurance plan.
Health care reform was a major stumping topic for Democrats last year, but as usual, nothing changed on the national level. So the states are doing what is necessary to give care to those who cannot afford it.
According to Bloomberg, in August the health department informed the states they had 12 months to prove 95 percent of children whose families earned twice as much as the poverty-level income were enrolled on SCHIP before the program could apply to other families.
The states claim this is a near impossible task, according to Bloomberg.
But New York was not the only state to take matters into its own hands. New Jersey also had a request for expansion rejected, but Democratic Gov. John Corzine has said he will not obey the federal restrictions.
“I am deeply concerned about the devastating impact that this misguided policy will have on our efforts to address the growing problem of the uninsured,” Corzine wrote to Bush in a letter, according to the Washington Post on Friday.
He is the first governor to openly challenge Bush on his new restrictions and has hinted he might seek to sue the federal government if a compromise is not made. Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York has said the same.
It appears Bush cares more about the well being of an industry than he does about fixing the health care problem. And even when the states realize the national government has failed us once again, Bush stands in the way of progress.
We can only hope Spitzer and Corzine do not back down from going toe-to-toe with Bush the way we have seen Congress do so many times before. The federal government has had to step in to fix big problems before (see: rights, civil), but health care is something we cannot leave up to lobbyists and Washington insiders. It is time for all of us to be true “Republicans” and let our states solve a problem the feds seem unwilling to address.
Owen Kennedy is a senior in human resource management. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.