Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Health Care for Poor Kids? The Terrorists Will Win!

I was sad but not surprised to read that Rep. Mike Rogers tried yet again to block reauthorization for the State Childrens' Health Insurance Program.

Apparently, ol' FBI Guy found nefarious evidence of an earmark that wasn't "properly disclosed" and tried to bring the whole thing to a halt. The improperly disclosed earmark in question? It was $30 million in funding for Tennessee hospitals that provide a large percentage of care for low-income patients. Funny, that sounds vaguely related to health care for low-income kids...

Here's the kicker -- the same bill had a provision that would do a tremendous amount for Michigan:
Speaking on the floor today, Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, says the bill
includes what amounts to a $1.2 billion earmark for health care in Michigan over 10 years’ time.

As we stand at the brink of a state government shutdown -- or draconian cuts to state services -- Rogers was willing to chuck $120 million a year over the next decade just so he could carry water for the Bush administration.

Let me repeat this:

Mike Rogers tried to block a bill that would give Michigan $120 million a year for health care.

From a strictly economic perspective, health care is one of the few positive sectors in the MI economy. My better half, Dr. Kelster, noted that for every physician hired, seven direct downstream jobs are created (things like xray & lab techs, office staff, etc.).

From a less charitable perspective, you have to wonder just who it is that Mr. Rogers thinks he represents. He has time to chat with national media about the Looming Iranian Threat. He has time to write a letter urging state legislators to "hang tough" on no new taxes -- even though he's happily voted for irresponsible federal spending time and again. He's worried about counterfeit pharmaceuticals, though he hasn't done much of anything to make the genuine ones more affordable for retirees.

Yet when Rogers had a chance to get $1.2 billion for Michigan health care in a bill that has strong bipartisan support (Orrin Hatch and Joe Barton both think it's a good bill!), he decided it was more important to be a hall monitor.

The sort of happy ending? Rogers' attempt to stop the bill failed, and it passed with bipartisan support (265-159). The not-so-happy ending? Bush is threatening to veto it, and there are doubts that the House will have enough votes (290) to override the veto. I don't hold much hope for Rogers doing the right thing any time soon.

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