Prenatal Propaganda

States may classify a developing fetus as an "unborn child" eligible for government health care, the Bush administration said, giving low-income women access to prenatal care and bolstering the arguments of abortion opponents. The plan will make a fetus eligible for health care under the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Because CHIP is aimed at kids, it does not typically cover parents or pregnant women. An interesting position, considering Bush's handling of SCHIP in Texas while he was governor. Where he deliberately tried to exclude 200,000 children from health insurance.

In 1999 Families USA found that the number of Texas children enrolled in Medicaid declined by 14 percent between 1996 and 1999, the largest decline in the twelve states studied. Another similar study showed that 598,000 children from low income families who were eligible for the health insurance program were not enrolled. In 1999 then Governor Bush, decided to drastically limit the state children's health insurance program (SCHIP) by declaring that only children in families below 150 percent of the federal poverty level would qualify. While other governors set the eligibility at 200 percent, and some others went as high as 300 percent--the maximum. Yet in Texas, second only to California in the number of uninsured children, George Bush fought to keep children out of a health insurance program that would cost the state $189 million--in funds waiting to be drawn from the interest of the states share of the tobacco lawsuit. SCHIP also receives $2.8 million in federal dollars for every every state dollar spent.

With 1.4 million children in Texas without health insurance, House Democrats wanted to set eligibility at 200%, which would insure 500,000 children. At the 150% that Bush wanted, only 300,000 would qualify. CHIP was a program that could have been implemented in 1997 with the governors signature, but instead he decided to appoint a committee to "study" the problem. Which found that the SCHIP program was a "Medicaid magnet"--once it's advertised, children start to show up, only to find out that their families earn too little to qualify for CHIP, but would automatically qualify for Medicaid. Bush then realized that the legislature would not allow him to deny 200,000 children health insurance and immediately began fighting for a dual application process that was difficult and complicated, so that 66% of families never returned.

In other words George Bush attempted to (1) bar 200,000 children from low-cost federal-state, health insurance and (2) discourage poor children from receiving free health insurance to which they were entitled by law. In the end house democrats prevailed with 200% eligibility, and one application for both CHIP and Medicaid. Bush walked up to Representative Glen Maxey afterward, placing both hands on his shoulders, and congratulated him for his hard work on children's health insurance, saying "you shoved it down our throat".

Read more about Bush's "compassionate conservatism" on children and healthcare:

Gore/Bush the candidates give stances on medicine

Counting the Fetus as an Unborn Child
New York Times News Service

Bush Administration Denies States the Opportunity to Help Women
July 20, 2001-“If anyone was persuaded that the extension of coverage to fetuses was legitimately designed to help pregnant women, yesterday’s move demonstrates clearly that women’s reproductive health is not the Administration’s priority. Bush has demonstrated his opposition to family planning. In New York alone, 400,000 women will be denied access to family planning services by Bush’s latest move. The Bush agenda – to slash women’s rights at the cost of creating rights for fetuses – is becoming clearer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, representing 55,000 pediatricians, believes President Bush’s 2002 budget unfairly proposes cutting federal funds that provide health care services to children, including emergency medical services for children, poison control centers and newborn screening.

Bush Budget on Health Care Would Cut Aid to Uninsured
WASHINGTON, April 3 — President Bush's budget will propose deep cuts in a variety of health programs for people without health insurance, administration officials said.

The cruelty of compassionate conservatism
Bush hacks at programs to aid children, leaving the battered, the ill and the poor behind.