If Bush Won't, Oregon Should.

Chip Shields

Tonight, my spouse Shelda Holmes, FNP and I held a Vigil to Save Children's Health Care at her North Portland primary care clinic Hands on Medicine. Vigil's like this one were organized nationwide by MoveOn.org Political Action in response to President Bush's veto of the State Childrens' Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).

Through our work at Shelda's clinic, we've seen that when kids get sick, seeing a care provider can make the difference between life and death. This week, Congress will decide which fate awaits children across America, when they consider whether to override President Bush's veto of kids' health care. 72% of Americans support this bill, including 61% of Republicans. We now only need 15 more House Republicans to vote with us--and MoveOn.org felt the best way to make that happen was a nationwide outcry. So, on Tuesday night across the country, we gathered at candlelight vigils for the millions of U.S. children who won't get health care if the Republicans block the bill.

KOIN aired a story on Children First's F grade on Oregon's health care for kids that featured Shelda's experience with uninsured kids in North Portland. You can watch it here.

We had about 25 people attend including four young people who were students in Benson's Evening School program.

Hearing people's frustration with the fact that there are 117,000 uninsured kids in Oregon really made me think about the outrage that President Bush and the Republicans are spending billions per week for the war in Iraq, but they won’t protect the health of millions of kids back home.

Here in Oregon, the House Democrats were forced to send the Healthy Kids Plan to the ballot as a constitutional amendment because of the supermajority requirment needed to raise revenue. And at the end of the day, the choice before us is a simple one. Do we want to insure 100,000 new kids or not? Politics is the art of the possible. There is no other proposal on the table. There is no choice between The Healthy Kids Plan and some other funding proposal. The bottom line is that if President Bush won't fund health care for kids, Oregon should take matters into its own hands. A constitutional amendment may not be ideal, but we must pass Measure 50 for Oregon's 117,000 unemployed kids. And besides, with all the bunk the right has put into the constitution over the years, can you think of a better thing to put into the constitution than health care for kids?

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Please cite your sources. I believe that your numbers are a blatant lie. Another lie from MoveOn.org perhaps?

    Tell the truth, the cynical politicians playing politics are the Pelosi led democrats who tried a bold grad and raising the stakes on Children's health care five-fold. Heck in Oregon alone there are 60,000 kids currently eligible that aren't signed up.

    The liberal cynics tried playing politics with children as the pawns. The children lost.

  • Rep Chip Shields (unverified)

    Thanks for the question. You can go here for more information. There's nothing wrong with critical thinking. Thanks again.

  • DJD (unverified)

    I checked out that free advertising link to the clinic their Chipper...that's one hot apple you scored there boy...whoohoo!!!!

    Um, yeah, and those stats you laid out...pure crap. People wonder why congress has an 11% approval rating, the Repubs spew their crap, the Dems spew their's...same game different name. You all are liars.

    You want income transfers into constitutional law? That is Communisim/Socialism, quit denying it my johny come lately carpet bagging friend, man up. Say it loud, say it proud. WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

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    "You want income transfers into constitutional law? That is Communisim/Socialism,"

    Love it! So much for taking THAT comment seriously...

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    One little thing:

    Rather than calling it "S-CHIP" can we please call it by its full name? It's the State Childrens' Health Insurance Program.

    Regular people out there don't know what an "S-CHIP" is - and at best, it sounds like just another bureaucratic acronym.

    Don't let the Republicans shift the language in their favor.

    It's just like "ANWR". Who cares if we drill for oil in that place called "anwar" - where is that, anyway, in Missouri?

    Oh no... it's the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Definitely don't want to drill for oil there.

    Words matter. Don't collapse the key message points into an acronym.

    Children's Health Insurance. That's what we're fighting for -- not SCHIP.

  • another lesson (unverified)

    Kurt and DJD provide us with yet another fine example of conservative rational thinking, and intellectual discourse. Kurt, two what numbers are you referring? Or do all numbers lie? Care to provide any citations to your assertions...real, empirically backed refutations?

    DJD...setting aside the fact that you don't even have the decency to treat people with a modicum of respect, I suppose by deducation we can assume that you consider all taxes (i.e. the cost of providing government) to be income transfers? Actually, there is little wonder why Congress has an 11% rating, read the damn poll! They are frustrated that Congress hasn't ended the war; hasn't done much to fix our health care system; etc... According to Zobby, "They tell us they want action on health care, education, the war and immigration, but they don't believe they are going to get it." Hmmm...last time I checked, there was only one party who seems intent to continue the war in Iraq indefinitely; there seems to be only party who denies there is a crisis in health care; and there is one party who simultaneously whips up racist fears of immigration while they refuse to offer any real solutions to the immigration question. Could it be that voters will deal with Congressional inaction by overwhelmingly casting aside those they see as obstructionists? Based upon the number of Republican retirements at both the national and state level...I would guess that Republicans are betting on just that. SO, DJD...it will be workers of the world uniting...with the middle class, disillusioned veterans, business leaders, children of immigrants, college students and others to usher in an era of progressive majorities in both Congress and in Oregon.

  • Rep Chip Shields (unverified)

    Kari - Duly noted and corrected.

  • andy (unverified)

    Yeah, another budget busting entitlement program! It is for the kids, so dig deep. What a bunch of BS. Anybody bother to read the bill? Do people at 4x the poverty level need help paying for health insurance? How many of those people have wide screen TV's, cable service, cell phones, etc? I bet those poor kids have cell phones, TV's, cars, etc. But the parents can't figure out how to pay for health insurance? Excellent veto George and I'll be voting no on M50 also.

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    Do people at 4x the poverty level need help paying for health insurance? How many of those people have wide screen TV's, cable service, cell phones, etc?

    You tell me.

    Are you currently paying $12,000 to $15,000 per year in insurance premiums for a family of four?

    If not, have you been "responsible enough to "choose" a job where such benefits are offered? (If you "chose" a low paying job in the service sector, you loose.)

    If not, have you and your wife agreed to abort any child that would put an irresponsible and unfair burden on the rest of us?


    My 37" flat screen cost me $1300 two years ago. That would have covered five weeks of insurance out of the 52 weeks in '06. In fact, the cost of cell phones might well be a matter of job retention to a lot of folks, but don't let the facts or logic get in the way of your Dogma.


    BTW: I am fully covered, as my wife offers coverage to her employees that compares favorably to that offered by any firm in Oregon. Lucky me!


    This all reminds me of the "Welfare Queens" argument made by these same selfish bastards way back in the Reagan administration.

    As I told my Fundy Christian brother back in the '80s:

    "The problem with this country is that single welfare mothers won't go out and get a damned job like God wants them to; and these uppity yuppie women who won't quit their jobs and stay home barefoot and pregnant like God wants them to."

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    Andy, I read the bill and I'll take that bet. Please present info on just TWO cases where the current family recipients of Children's Health Insurance Program have wide screen TV's, cable service, cell phones, and the kids have cell phones, TV's, cars, etc. Back up your assertions with facts. Then tell us what percentage of all recipients you believe should not qualify, and why.

  • DJD (unverified)

    RE: Another Lesson Actually I am a conservative (Econ and Immigration) Democrat. I am also a long-time union member, from a poor-lower middle class family, very disillusioned veteran, married to a LEGAL immgrant, am mixed race (Whitey and First Nations) and a college student.

    When R. Wyden said that immpeaching Bush would be a bad idea, cuz it was outside the political calculation, I lost all hope. GW Bush, Cheney, Neocon, et.al pigs are blundering idiots that have caused massive death and destruction beyond all comprehension with the war machine and bad, unrealistic economic policy.

    But this thread is about income transfers from what statistics tell us are the very poor, to those who don't ALWAYS "really" need the money, the people who think their priorites should be the latest electronic gadget or cool thing, whatever that is. Maybe we should put mandatory sex education or child rearing classes with a focus on the long-term economics of child rearing into the constitution.

    I am not a smoker, I am very poor, I have kids, and I take care of them. I make lots of sacrifices, but my kid has what it meeds, because I provided for it's neeeds. What a novel concept.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)

    A constitutional amendment may not be ideal, but we must pass Measure 50...

    Well, you got the first part right. Putting this in the constitution is not only less than ideal, it’s a deal-breaker.

    As has been documented in the local newspaper, there are far too many stickums tacked onto the Oregon constitution already. Let’s not add a philosophically hypocritical, poorly crafted tax measure to the list.

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    Measure 50 funds SB3. The Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office Report on SB3, so often lyingly cited in anti-M50 ads, on websites and in voter's pamphlet arguments, provides a number of important data about M50 and insuring uninsured kids in Oregon. One point is that HB3 already links Oregon Healthy Kids with federal Children's Health Insurance.

    Actual reading of the OLFO report shows the M50 ad campaigns to be sheer lies or mendacious misreadings of plain statements by the office.

    One of the lies is that Measure 50 creates new programs. Actually it works through existing programs while removing bureaucratic obstacles. This is why the "60,000 eligible not enrolled" point is a canard. They aren't enrolled because there isn't funding. Measure 50 funds those 60,000 kids within the existing programs.

    However and relatedly, the Healthy Kids plan actually relies substantially for its funding on federal Children's Health Insurance Program Funds, along with Medicaid funds under existing waivers for the OHP. Over 50% of the Healthy Kids Plan funds ultimately would come from the Feds.

    Since the Supplemental Children's Health Insurance Program under veto incorporates renewal of the existing program, if the veto stands M50 funding will be threatened, although a further compromise is likely. However, the president's recent unreasonable rule-making to restrict CHIP funding from families above the poverty level is allowed to stand, that would still put a big dent in the funding for Healthy Kids.

    SB3 provides that if funding falls short the legislature should make it up from other revenues. Thus in a sense Rep. Shields' call is redundant if M50 passes. If M50 fails, any expanded CHIP money may come through will do part of its intended work anyway, unless the rule-based restrictions stand. If M50 passes, but the federal children's insurance falls short, the state leg. will be directed to make up the gap.

    One other point from the OLFO report, this one against pro-M50 ads that also cite it: while it says 117,000 kids in Oregon are uninsured, it estimates that Healthy Kids will reach only 78% of them, or 94,000. So based on that source, the claim of "over 100,000 kids" isn't quite true, and certainly not the claim of 117,000. It estimates the end result will be that 95% of Oregon kids will have insurance. This misrepresentation of OLFO's report isn't as bad as the gross lies of the opponents, but should be acknowledged.

    Measure 50 (stupidly and immorally) excludes children who can't prove U.S. citizenship (which probably will include some who actually are citizens). It isn't quite clear if the 117,000 figure includes those who aren't eligible on that basis, or if there is a further increment of uninsured non-citizen Oregon kids. Likewise therefore it isn't clear if those kids are included in the 78% and 95% proportions cited. This wouldn't affect the positive 94,000 will-be-insured estimate.

    BTW, despite considerable misgivings and my continued belief that the cigarette tax is unfair and regressive in both a tax and social values sense, I've changed my mind and decided to vote yes on M50 after all.

  • Portland Cynic (unverified)

    If the Legislature is gonna ask me (a voter) to vote for BM50 then I'm gonna ask them to vote for real health reform this next session!! Or maybe you'll get another bill like SB27 from Archimedes members and kill that too?

  • Larry McD (unverified)

    There's a great book out there by a pair of Philly news reporters called America, What Went Wrong? which documents in page after page that the largest single transfer of income and assets in American history came during Ronald Reagan's administration. It's a trend that Georgetown graduate Clinton did nothing to stop and Princeton/Harvard graduate Bush accelerated.

    This comes from the Wall Street Journal earlier this week...

    The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005... That is up sharply from 19% in 2004 and surpasses the previous high of 20.8% set in 2000 at the peak of the previous bull market in stocks.

    The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share in 2000.

    I feel for DJD because I think his anger is understandable. I think, however, that it would be more effective focused at appropriate targets, rather than spewed in all directions.

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    20 years ago, my wife & i returned to Oregon with our newborn son. i had been on workers comp for a year (crushed hand) and it took a while for us to get on our feet again. as we struggled towards two fulltime jobs (and the comcomitant child care), we were placed on the WIC program (imagine our surprise when the Multnomah Co nurse, to whom we took our child for regular care, said he was underweight!); at a later point, we were on food stamps for a time. i think we even got a food box at one time.

    am i ashamed that for 2 years, much of our care for our family was "welfare"? not a bit. i had spent 4 years in the Air Force, both Alison & i had worked since our teens, and we have both been taxpayers since those days. we have both given back to our communities in many ways, so taking the services provided by our governments -- the legacy of 20th Century Liberalism, one of the great advances in human history -- is something i am glad we were able to do. it gave our son the nourishment he needed, the health care he needed, and it gave his parents the peace of mind we needed to know we were able to care for him properly despite our economic difficulties.

    i remember in that time that some man wrote to the Oregonian that he would never accept handouts. Alison wrote back to say what an idiot he was: if his family was going hungry, he'd pick pride over their care?

    i welcome anyone to apply for use and all public services. let's pay for it by getting those off the public teat who have no right to be there: corporations, military contractors, etc.

  • Ted Gleichman (unverified)

    It is almost incomprehensible to me that we live in the only industrialized country that is so stupid as to not have universal health insurance.

    This failure is our self-centered myopia at its very worst (with the sole horrendous exception being our apparent belief that we the right to make war on anyone, at any time of our own choosing, for any reason).

    Kudos and heartfelt thanks to Ms. Holmes and Rep. Shields and the others who toil every day to try to improve access to care.

    I'm sure that virtually everyone who supports providing health care to all children (and to all others!) understands that many of these current programs are stopgaps or workarounds.

    But we also know that we need them until we can get national leadership that can help lead us toward a more rational universal system.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    All laudable goals that I agree with. Taxing tobacco ain't the way to go about achieving any of it.

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    <h2>Kurt, how would you propose the inordinate cost to society caused by cigarettes, and the people who smoke them, be paid?</h2>

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