Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bailing out the economy--and children

The Washington Post reports today that requests for state health insurance for children are soaring in the Washington, D.C. area. From the Post's story:

The increases are particularly pronounced in the region's largest and wealthiest jurisdictions as employers cut benefits and eliminate jobs. In Fairfax County, for instance, requests for the state's insurance program for children, Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS), were up 16 percent between November 2007 and November 2008. In Alexandria, caseloads increased 20 percent, and in Loudoun, they were up 16.5 percent.

It's not just the poorest families that can no longer afford insurance. The House has just passed an expansion of the state children's health insurance programs, and the Senate will look at the issue soon. President-elect Barack Obama has said he will sign it.

The Post's story today suggests that health care reform should not take a back seat to financial and auto-company bailouts. Interestingly, in last week's otherwise discouraging Labor Department unemployment figures, health care was one of only two industries that actually added jobs last month.

The new administration has a chance to boost an industry--health care--that not only is doing well, but directly affects our children.

Interestingly, the other industry that also added jobs last month--at a time when the nation lost 524,000 jobs overall--was education. That's another that is aimed directly at our children.

Boosting spending for children would be a wonderful way to stimulate the economy.

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