Children Need Healthcare

A heartfelt letter to the editor of the Daily Herald about why the children of this country should have access to health care. It is my hope – as a health professional – that people of good will can work together to make sure that programs such as SCHIP pass

By vetoing the most recent health care bill, President Bush has denied millions of low-income children access to much-needed health care. Over the last 10 years, the children’s health program has proven to be a popular, successful program with six million children now enrolled. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program, by providing access to preventative care, has been instrumental in lowering everyone’s health-care costs. Children treated by primary-care doctors instead of emergency rooms not only cost less, but cut down costs for the insured population.

The overwhelming bipartisan support for SCHIP is because it is a proven program that works. It costs less than $3.50 a day to cover a child through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Insuring kids is also cost effective for taxpayers who pick up the tab for indigent care in emergency rooms, which is the most expensive way to care for a child’s health.

From an educational standpoint, it is hard to deny the fact that a healthy, well cared for child will come to school ready to receive instruction without distraction. If we are to address the problems of performance for all children, we must level the playing field. Children from higher social economic households have a definite advantage over children from less advantaged homes. We can make up many of those disadvantages by offering after-school programs and more rigorous material; however we cannot provide in our after-school programs adequate health care. When children are given the health care they deserve, they are more receptive to instruction and therefore, successful in school and life.

In Illinois the SCHIP reauthorization bill would have kept 281,432 kids in the program and extended coverage to another 154,000 who, as of now, have no insurance. From my perspective, the health of a child plays an important factor in determining his/her performance in school and life.

I applaud Melissa Bean and the members of Illinois’ congressional delegation who stood up and supported what is right and needed by voting for the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Health is not a luxury that only a few children can afford, it must be a necessity that all children are afforded.

Robert DiVirgilio, Ed.D.

Superintendent,

Beach Park School

District 3

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