I can only call it economic barbarity, the amendment to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that Senator Jim DeMint and 36 other right-wing members of the U.S. Senate tried to slip into law. There’s something about the idea of children getting health insurance that these senators seem to despise, so they tried to undo the good effect of the legislation to expand SCHIP.
Senator DeMint’s amendment would have forced impoverished working families to pay for their children’s health insurance, requiring state health programs to “impose premiums, deductibles, coinsurance,” even though the point of SCHIP is that children whose parents are working but still struggling to make ends meet should have their health insurance paid for them.
Under the DeMint amendment, all SCHIP families earning 200 percent of the poverty line would have to pay for their children’s health insurance. Senator DeMint’s amendment calls these families “higher income families”. When you put it that way, Senator DeMint’s amendment seems to make sense. I mean, who would want the program to be abused by families who are making lots of money, and just using the government to avoid responsibility, right? Who would want taxpayers to support these people, making twice the poverty rate, with extravagant lifestyles living high on the hog?
Want to know how much these so-called “higher income families” make? Try $28,000 per year. The poverty guideline recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services for a single mother with a child is just $14,000 of income per year. Yes, if that single mother makes $14,100 per year, the government doesn’t officially count her as poor.
What Senator DeMint and his nasty right wing colleagues in the Senate are suggesting is that a working single mother and her child can live on $28,000 a year and buy health insurance too. What kind of absurd world are they living in that they could believe such a thing?
Take a look at how much it costs to live in the cities where most Americans live. Now, seeing those expenses, try to calculate how you would get by if you had to live on your own with a small child on just $28,000. It’s pretty darned difficult to do, and it would get even more difficult if you had to pay for the health insurance premiums that Senator DeMint tried to impose.
Take a look at the roll call on the motion to table the DeMint amendment, and you’ll see that there were even a few Republicans who were too ashamed to vote to keep the amendment under consideration. Those who voted against tabling the amendment are supported by voters who are frightened by words like “socialism”. Yes, there are people who are opposing SCHIP expansion by calling it socialist.
Well, if socialism means that a working single mother who earns just $28,000 a year doesn’t have to pay for the health insurance of her child, call me a socialist.