Friday, May 02, 2008

Troubled with but one devil, I am. The one about the uninsured children's crisis in the US

I? Have been busy. But at least when I'm busy I'm troubled with but one devil (versus the thousand that would plague me if I were not busy...allegedly.)

What makes me saying that any different from everyone else who says it, and what makes this week noteworthy versus others?

This week has been truly busy and absorbing, but it's not been all about me. In fact, I've felt like more of an instrument---which feels more powerful than you might think.

My house is a mess, my kids have gotten away with murder (of two rolie polies, as a start), my hair hasn't been out of a pony tail in five days (other than to be washed, which YES, I did wash), I made three innocent children tardy because I forgot my daughter's bike at school, and we've subsisted on starchy dinners all week (mac-n-chz for the kids and loaded potatoes for me and the hubs---have you ever done a Tex-Mex potato, with sour cream and salsa and black beans and cheese? YUM!).

But I'm happy.

This week I've indulged in my passion---learning, politics, writing, editing, and do-gooding.

All week I've been fast and furious with the MOMocrats, riding the amazing trip it is to have a powerful senator who is vying for the Democratic Nomination for President pause to do a Q&A with us.

All that we did and accomplished made me see how very powerful a small number of targeted regular citizen voices can be. It made me see that there is an enormous disconnect between big media and regular citizens, and I realized the relief the engaged voter feels when they are offered substantive discussion about the issues.

I also realized how defensive and possessive big media is of their perceived ownership of the market---and how very afraid they are of citizen journalists.

I learned a lot this week about business, marketing, and the power of the Internet to make a success of a well-run and concentrated effort.

Now, I am taking that and doing my best to funnel all of it into a cause near and dear to my heart: health care coverage for kids.

At Moms Speak Up today, I'm doing what I can to promote the Cover the Uninsured week.

I discuss the Campaign for Healthy Kids, include an interview with Laura Guerra-Cardus of the Children's Defense Fund, and share personal stories about kids and families struggling with health care coverage (such as KayTar, Kyla's daughter).

That's only the beginning.

I know everyone has an opinion about how to solve---or not solve---the problem of health care coverage for uninsured children.

The real problem is the misunderstandings. There are so many misunderstandings about who currently shoulders the burden, who should shoulder the burden, how government programs are funded, and what is happening to kids who lack insurance.

Can I ask you a few favors?

1. Will you keep an open mind and come over to Moms Speak Up?

At the very least, read my interview with Laura Guerra-Cardus, or skim down to the bottom and read the quick and short attached fact sheets.

2. Will you take the time to engage in a productive discussion about this issue? Whether this means simply leaving a comment, stating your opinion, sharing your own stories, or asking a question, I welcome it. Here or at Moms Speak Up.

3. Will you help promote this issue and spread information---encourage dialog about it---by posting a link to any or all of the articles on Moms Speak Up on your own sites?

Whether you realize it or not, you are paying for uninsured children right now. You are paying with higher local taxes, higher service rates at health care providers, higher copays and deductibles, and so forth.

But that pales in comparison to what uninsured children and their families pay.

Come join in discussion about this issue.

I thought I knew, but even I've been surprised by things I've learned.

And it's only committed me more deeply to helping the 9.4 million children---4 million new this year courtesy of President Bush's veto of both bills to help CHIP---who lack health care coverage.

Thanks.

Let me share a few teaser points. Did you know?

Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) currently provide coverage to over 30 million children.

9.4 million children do not have health care coverage.

90 percent of those 9.4 million live in working households and a majority live in two-parent families. See a breakdown in charts and graphics of who the uninsured are by clicking here.

31% of uninsured children live in families who earn between ~$20,000 to $40,000 annually.

Many of these families lack insurance because the base cost is 30% or more of their income, plans don't cover their children's health care or special care needs, or private and group plans deny them.

The current Medicaid and SCHIP programs are confusing and burdensome to navigate. Enrolling is complicated, time-consuming, and slow. The programs are understaffed, suffer chronic budget shortfalls, and are restricted by wild variations in eligibility.

The All Healthy Children Act---which passed both the House and Senate but was vetoed---had solutions.

Tax credits carry a variety of risks.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, "Nationwide, the amount employees pay for family coverage increased 30 percent from 2001 to 2005, while family policyholders’ income increased just 3 percent over the same period." Additionally, "...the average cost of family coverage increased nearly $2,500—from $8,281 in 2001 to $10,728 in 2005." Further, more people are working in jobs that do not offer health insurance benefits, and plans are cutting back coverage.

Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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14 comments:

flutter said...

incredible work you guys are doing!

liv said...

right on. i have noticed so many negative changes in GA's policies on health care for children in the past year or two that the mind boggles. so proud of you that i'd bring you a dozen doughnuts, gurl.

Yolanda said...

Of all the things I love and admire about you, what I admire most is your refusal to be insignificant. It's a big world, and it's hard not to succumb to the massiveness of it all, and instead believe in the power of your voice and the ability of your two hands. It's an incredible lesson for all of us, but especially your two observant girls.

thailandchani said...

Whether you realize it or not, you are paying for uninsured children right now. You are paying with higher local taxes, higher service rates at health care providers, higher copays and deductibles, and so forth.

That's okay with me - as long as the kids are being taken care of. I understand that I have to pay taxes as part of a community. What I don't get is how poorly it is administrated.

anniegirl1138 said...

I have plans to get this stuff linked over at my blog before the day is over. Between a sick hubby and a kindergarten field trip - I am a bit behind.

I've navigated Medicaid - though for my late husband. It is not only a difficult application process but a demoralizing one. The first set of social workers were so kind but when I had to transfer the application to another county the next social worker made me feel like a beggar. I left her office and sat in my car and cried. As if putting my dying husband in a nursing home made me some sort of awful burden on society. I was a taxpayer the same as she was and if I could have cured my husband with the wave of a hand, I would have. No one wants to be part of "the system". It's humiliating but such is the state of health care in our country. Such is the state of dying really.

Anyway, glad to help out. People don't always realize how lucky they are in until disaster strikes. I knew we were lucky to have ins. through my job. I taught in schools were kids used the nurse's office as their "primary care". It's not pretty out there.

Kyla said...

Thanks, thanks, THANKS! This is good stuff.

Mishra said...

Dropped in here through general surfing.I must admit you have a blog that I will have to keep coming back.Its really informative.Thanks for putting this article up !

Jennifer H said...

Julie, as always, you shine a light on something important and essential.

There is so much wrong with this system. Our next administration (people, think about this when you vote) had better come prepared with a plan to solve this problem. The alternative is too distressing to consider.

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Right on, chica.

I'm on my way.

Professor J said...

Good,good work, Julie. Forward, Sister!

Cathy said...

Well done! Am heading over there now...

womaninawindow said...

I'm with you a 100 percent. It is beyond my comprehension why we don't already have it. To me it as common sense as gravity...

Christine said...

oh julie, i love you!

wheelsonthebus said...

Julie,

I am posting tomorrow on things we can do for Mother's Day instead of screwing the environment with cut flowers. I would like to link here.

Emily