With the exception of the mounting death tolls of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens that are published on a daily basis, few more depressing statistics are released during the year than the U.S. Census Bureau’s report on the number of people in this country without health insurance.
There has been an inexorability in the yearly increases of the ranks of the uninsured over the last decade. But last year the increase was more of a growth spurt. Over the course of the year some 2.2 million more Americans became uninsured, bringing the grand total to 47 million, which means we are closing in on almost 16% of the country’s population.
Among these 47 million were some 8.7 million children under the age of 18.
And it is these children who represent the current flash point in the ideological battle over health insurance in this country.
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program is set to expire on Sept. 30 and there’s a 3-party battle going on among the Bush administration, the House and the Senate over how much the program should be expanded.
There is a lot of bipartisan support, particularly in the Senate, for expanding SCHIP. Indeed, to the politicians who have joined hands across the aisle covering uninsured children is a no-brainer. This was attested to by the Senate passing its bill by a rare veto-proof margin.