SCHIP and Traditional Family Values

A report on local station WSMV tonight illustrates the hole in the argument that the renewal of SCHIP would extend benefits to families whose income is too far above the poverty line. The story isn’t about health care, it’s about services for the developmentally disabled but the connecting link is that the family earns too much to quality for low-income medical assistance but earns too little to pay the full costs of services for a teenage son in need of on-going developmental care.

The solution proposed by one agency was for the parents to divorce. This would put the youth into a crisis category that would hasten his eligibility for state assistance. Another suggested hiring an illegal alien and paying the caregiver a cheaper rate.

Six thousand people are on the waiting list for developmental services in Tennessee. Even those families earning middle income are put into economic stress, or worse, by caregiving costs. To maintain income they must work yet the excessive costs of caregiving can undermine their economic security and plunge them into a financial crisis.

It’s particularly cruel to exclude middle income people caught in these circumstances from SCHIP and other programs in order to exclude a few families who earn more than poverty level. This reasoning actually puts some families at risk of falling downward into poverty. It also compounds stress and contributes to hardships that can destroy the family’s quality of life.

Those who have been so vocal about preserving traditional family values and others who are concerned about justice have a perfect opportunity to demonstrate their values. Surely we can do better than this.

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