MO Children Left Behind in Jeff City?
Springfield, MO - As State Senators haggle over health care in the budget bill, Missouri children are being left behind. The Senate voted down a proposal to expand the state's Children's Health Insurance Program, also known as S-CHIP, which called for providing health care coverage to nearly 17,000 children.
Physician Judy Dasovich, volunteer medical director of Kitchen Clinic, a free health clinic in Springfield, says families already are being forced to make tough choices when a child is sick.
"Even having health insurance doesn't necessarily insure access to care. If you have a high deductible and you can't afford your deductible, you don't go to the doctor."
The Senate and the House disagree on the use of nearly $1 billion in federal stimulus money. Some Republicans would prefer to see the funds go to taxpayers as rebates. Health care advocates say not using these funds leaves a gaping hole in Missouri's health care reform, noting that when state budgets are tight, programs for poor people are the first on the chopping block.
Dasovich calls it an age-old problem that lawmakers need to finally get right: how to expand access to health care and still make it affordable for everyone. She says it's getting more difficult for clinics like hers to care for all patients.
"It's hard to get in to see us, because our services are so much in demand. The hardest thing we do every day is decide who doesn't get care."
The budget bill now heads to a House-Senate conference committee.
More information is available from Joan Suarez with Missouri Pro-Vote, 314-531-2288.