Sunday, December 30, 2007

Internet Behemoths and Children's Health

God is not dead -- just renamed.

The Associated Press (and ten million mainstream news sources that picked up the story without adding any information or insights) reports that Pres. Bush signed legislation extending the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

President Bush signed legislation on Saturday that extends a popular children's health insurance program after having twice beaten back attempts to expand it.

The extension of the State Children's Health Insurance Program is expected to provide states with enough money to cover those enrolled through March 2009. Bush and some Republican lawmakers say the program will serve those that it should: children from families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance.

"We're pleased that the program will be extended and that states can be certain of their funding," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.

Many Democrats, with help from some Republicans, wanted to give the program a significant cash infusion and broaden coverage to an estimated 4 million more children.

An important point:

This is not the same bill that Bush vetoed twice. It does not expand SCHIP to cover those millions of additional children whose families cannot afford private health insurance. It merely renews the current statute. Obviously, this is a good thing, since Bush was holding children's health needs hostage to his demand that Congress rewrite the expansion bill. It means that states will now have the funds to cover children who are already qualified under SCHIP income guidelines. It does not mean that approximately four million additional children who do not now qualify will now be covered. They will not be.

It's important to be clear about this, because Think Progress's news item about this (as of 11:16 a.m., EST, on Sunday, Dec. 30) is titled "Bush Signs SCHIP Expansion." As several readers have noted in comments, this is false and very misleading; the editors over at TP need to correct that wording asap.


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