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Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Fundamental Right

I was dismayed by news today of President Bush's planned veto of legislation to expand a health insurance program for children whose families cannot afford private insurance.

Bush contends that expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be too costly and would extend government-covered insurance to children in families who can afford private coverage. Proponents, including a bipartisan majority in Congress say all they're doing is expanding coverage to more children who would not have been covered. Bush also argues that it sounds like a push for completely federalized health care.

Even if that were true, would that be such a bad thing? Certainly, all children deserve health insurance. It should have nothing to do with whether their parents can afford it; no child chooses his or her parents. But what about universal coverage for adults, too? I believe healthcare is a fundamental human right. Healthcare should have nothing to do with your income. Some people don't agree. To them, I say this: wait until you have a serious health issue and you'll understand.

Though it's not perfect in other countries that have it, I would like to see a single-payer system that eliminates insurance companies, but let's be practical -- the insurance industry would never allow it. If we need to include them in the solution, fine. However, the point is that everyone should be covered; I don't care how we go about it.

My medical situation may not be the norm, but if the federal government guaranteed health insurance, I'd like to think I'd be more likely to receive 24-hour nursing coverage, which would allow me to live on my own. I currently get 16 hours a day through my family's costly private insurance. A state waiver plan exists, but it doesn't reimburse nursing agencies as well. Do you think private insurance companies want to pay for eight more hours of care each day? No, and I can't blame them. My care is expensive. I feel that's where my government should step in.

Bottom line for me: until every American has health insurance I cannot say the United States is greatest country in the world.

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