Where does Sarah Palin stand on children’s health coverage?

The entire country now has heard about how Sarah Palin and her husband knew in advance that their son, Trig Palin, would be born with Down Syndrome. The Palins also must have known that they would have health insurance and the financial resources needed to pay for the extensive medical care Trig is likely to need throughout his life.

Here is 3-year old Emily Demko, another child with Down Syndrome, who lives with her
family in Ohio. The family has given permission to share this photo of their beautiful daughter and the story (details here) of their trials securing health coverage for Emily.

As of this spring, Emily was uninsured. Due to her Down Syndrome, the family could not find a private insurer willing to offer them affordable coverage for Emily. If the Bush Administration had not shut down Ohio’s efforts to expand its State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Emily would have been able to continue to secure decent, affordable public coverage. But the Bush Administration in August of 2007 issued a controversial ban on coverage of children in moderate-income families and twice vetoed bills to reauthorize and expand the SCHIP program.SCHIP is a popular, bi-partisan program. Sixty-eight Senators, including 18 Republicans, voted for the SCHIP reauthorization bill that President Bush vetoed (Senate vote). John McCain, however, stood with the President.So, along with knowing about Sarah Palin’s personal decision to have a child with Down Syndrome, it also would be good know if she agrees with her candidate’s decision to stand with President Bush against expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Right call or wrong call?

Jocelyn Guyer is the deputy executive director at the Center for Children and Families (CCF) and a senior researcher at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. This post represents her personal opinion not that of the Institute.

24 replies »

  1. Gladly in the UK we don’t have the problem of health care as we have the NHS which is free “At the Moment” But I am a firm believer that all children should have free health care. After all its not there thought their parents can’t or choose not to pay for insurance. But as I said we don’t have that problem YET!!

  2. I have S-Chip and Private Health Insurance. I work full time for state government in a professional level position, yet I qualify for this and WIC. This should show you how much people earn these days. If I did not have health insurance (which since I work for the state they are mandated to cover any preexisting conditions if we apply during open enrollment or at our hire date) and my wonderful Medicaid card, my daughter probably would be blind and speak very little. My S-Chip pays my staggering Co-pays. Medicaid also reimburses me my premiums every month, because they had the smart idea that paying the premium would be cheaper than paying all the medical care my daughter incurs. My daughter has a genetic defect as well, and I could never pay $169 dollars for a 30 minute speech therapy or OT session. 2 times a week, every week. I could never pay for her medicine, which under my health insurance is still over $200 a month. I could never pay for her eye surgery copays and hospital stays. If I lost my only access to helping her, I would most certainly myself be lost. So to those of you that think we are just being lazy and not working enough, and allowing the government to just pay all our bills.. think again. I pay taxes. I work a very hard job in child protective services. I am very scared about losing my daughter’s only option. I wish people would think about being in someone else’s place before they make ugly comments and blame parents. Emily is beautiful and she certainly doesn’t deserve any negativity, nor do her hard working parents.

  3. Is Health Care insurance the real issue? NO the COST and quality of health care is! If the cost of healthcare is not brought down it won’t matter what kind of insurance programs there are out there, because the government “The People” will not be able to afford to fund or pay for them. What the government provides is paid for by the people, it is NOT FREE!
    Health insurance costs could be greatly decreased if the hospitals were held responsible for their mistakes and not charging the patients health insurance. Hospital Infections add more than $30,000,000,000.00 thirty billion dollars to the health care bills each year and 90,000 Americans Die each year from hospital infections. It is estimated that 1 in every 20 patients will contract an infection while in a hospital, plus 145,000 patients die each year from other medical errors.
    If the medical community cared so much for the well being of people then they wouldn’t charge so much for their services and no “Doctor” would ever think of aborting babies, especialy after taking an oath to protect life! FACT: Since 1973 over 40,000,000 thats 40 million Americans were aborted (MURDERED) costing tax payers billions each year.
    Parents need to get informed on the programs such as SCHIP for children. They portray it as this great program to help all families especially the poor, however the one thing they don’t tell the parents is that when you sign your children up for these programs is that the health care person or provider makes the choice on what the child recieves not the parent (parent looses their rights) absolutely scary. For instance when the drug companies come out with a “NEW” drug the doctor makes the decision on whether or not it has been fully tested or what the side effects are and as a Parent you have no choice – don’t agree ask your doctor.
    You say that would never happen here in America! Well it is, take for example the HPV Vaccine for girls that drug companies wanted the government to make a law that all girls had to have it, but yet it was stated that it wasn’t tested and was less then 1% effective anyway. Who is getting rich, the drug companies and the hospitals at you and your families expense.
    By implementing a National Health Care Program is going to do nothing but drive costs way up and the quality of care way down. People complain now that they spend hours in waiting rooms and the Emergency rooms now, wait until everyone gets their National Health Care Card hospitals and Doctors offices will be flooded with runny noses, scratches, ordinary bumps and bruises.
    Have you ever heard someone say “I don’t care what it costs, I got insurance and I don’t have to pay the bill the insurance company does”, WRONG you will pay for it, thats how we got to where we are at today.

  4. Thanks for the information about other states and their programs for children with disabilities. In Ohio, there is a program called BCMH, and the child must have a significant disability to be covered, then only certain parts of the anatomy are covered by this program. Emily does not qualify, since they do not consider Downs Syndrome is not considered a disabling condition. She does not have any of the other issues that would make her qualify for the program. That being said, the only other option on Ohio is SCHIP, and as mentioned earlier, we make too much money to qualify. Those of you that live in states that automatically qualify children with disabilities should feel grateful. Ohio does not have such a thing. Believe me, I have done the research.

  5. I’m confused MJD. Why can’t you get coverage for your daughter based on disability (most states have a “loophole” program that is based on disability regardless of income). Children under this program get full coverage no matter how much their parents make. I am aware however that this program does not exist in all states. Are you from a state that doesn’t have it?
    My daughter has a condition similar to Downs (chromosomal translocation) and my family makes a combined income of $60,000. I do not qualify for Medicaid or any other gov’t program based on income. I make way too much for WIC, subsidized child care, or government health care for myself and my husband. But I don’t pay a cent for my daughter’s health care or for her food even. It’s all covered by her Medicaid-based HMO. I live in PA.
    That being said, I do think it is a shame that Pres. Bush vetoed the SCHIP bill and I completely disagree with him on that. Basically SCHIP is for those families who make supposedly “too much” for Medicaid and yet cannot afford to insure their kids. There are MILLIONS of them out there. I fully support expanding this program. We need it desperately in fact. These are the kids of hardworking middle class families who put more into the tax system than anybody else and reap the least of its benefits. IMO.

  6. I have a child with down’s syndrome. They automatically qualify for for full medical coverage provided by the state, due to the indisputable diagnosis. It’s a shame you do not have this information.

  7. I have a child with down’s syndrome. They automatically qualify for for full medical coverage provided by the state, due to the indisputable diagnosis. It’s a shame you do not have this information.

  8. I have a child with down’s syndrome. They automatically qualify for for full medical coverage provided by the state, due to the indisputable diagnosis. It’s a shame you do not have this information.

  9. Excellent question. Will Palin support helping all children. All children should have access to quality health care, not only poor children.
    It is not fair to exclude people because they make too much yet never enough. The Republicans need to address this issue if they want any chance of winning. Only giving money and programs to Democratic voters is not smart.

  10. This is a great story. And while I agree with MG that this topic probably won’t be in the top ten of topics discussed in this election. It should still be talked about and talked about LOUDLY, if in no other place than the blogosphere. As someone who has had some health issues (prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease), things like this are close to my heart (literally). I have seen both sides of the coin and been affected by both sides.
    My father is currently dying from the same disease (prostate cancer) that I was diagnosed with and cured of. So I can tell you from first hand experience that the difference between a person making it through a health challenge or a health challenge overcoming a person is directly correlated to the health care coverage or the lack thereof. Not only will Gov. Palin’s daughter have coverage, but the quality will be noticeably different than that given to the average American, much less a beautiful child, such as the one identified in this story who is not covered at all. So I have issues when this aspect of her life is paraded in front of us as an aspect of virtue, while her policy decisions appear to contradict that virtue.
    As an African American Evangelical (I know it sounds like an oxymoron), this is what I struggle most with the Republican party and mainstream Evangelicals, who identify the Republican party as the party of the “Faith”. Their apparent desire to posture themselves as the standard bearers of virtue and moral integrity, but yet lack of compassion and sensitivity to the needs of those who are less fortunate them them. I wonder if these people even read the Bible they say they stand for, because if they read it. I think they would come to different conclusions than the ones they have become famous for.

  11. joeblow,
    I would like to introduce myself as the mother of the child portrayed in the story above. I can assure you, it is NOT a bs story, and our income is several thousand less than 75k per year. as a matter of fact, we were less than $200 away from medicaid eligability! I live in southeast Ohio, where the median income is less than 42K per year. Also, my daughter has no option of private healthcare, since she has a gentic condition. The group plan I was part of when she was born did not want to continue full coverage on her because the medical bills were so extensive. we ARE a working class income family, we both work hard to provide, yet we have NO ACCESS to healthcare for our daughter. Her medical bills would astound you, sir. I pay what I can every month, and pray that I can continue giving her the best medical care I can. I am sure that Gov Palin will never see a $100 bill for 20 min of speech therapy, or a $22,000 bill for a 6 day hospital stay. Neither will her grandchild. They will always be covered, and we as taxpayers would foot that bill if she were to be elected. How is that not an upeer middle class person bilking the federal government?

  12. This is a BS story. “Moderate” income = 75k to 150k. If her parents arent willing to spend the $1000 or so per month to insure their child, then its THEIR problem, not the federal governments.
    SCHIP is supposed to be for low/working class income, not upper middle class fools who are are trying to bilk the federal govt.

  13. jw, don’t fret about a job for her daughter’s partner (husband to be?). With all the Palin’s friends and relatives and her new Republican best friends they’ll all get jobs and healthcare – maybe even Federal healthcare. You don’t think that the new happy couple will be allowed to fail do you?

  14. I have to wonder how her grandchild’s prenatal care and pediatric care will be paid for. Usually when a couple gets married, they lose parent’s coverage. And if they both remain in school I would think that getting a job with health care benefits would be close to impossible. Perhaps Medicaid/SCHIP for Mom and new baby???

  15. So, as usual, the question at the top of the page isn’t really answered. No one here on this blog page asked Sarah Palin to answer. This is just a bunch of the same old, same old. Mean spirited opinions and sarcasm.

  16. I hate to say it but Palin’s record/viewpoints on health care topics won’t even be on the political radar except for the most devoted policy wonks and political junkies.
    It was pretty evident what she will run on- populist image that emphasizes “small town” values and her emphasis as a “reformer” (competent official – sure, reformer? – a bit shaky there) and someone who is strong on energy independence (which won’t happen in 4 years let alone the next 10). Health care won’t make the topic ten except for health-related abortion issues.

  17. As an ex resident of Alaska I can tell you that the state has one of the largest free loading mentalities of any state. Before oil prices started to spike the state had huge deficits yet no state income tax even with the high wages paid. The free, oil revenue permanent fund, is a long time gift for just living in Alaska. And the anti-guvmnt types typically vent their worst on the way to the mail box to pick up their guvmnt check. Add this to the huge ear marks that the state gets from lower 48 taxes and you wonder why they couldn’t find enough money to provide childrens healthcare. By the way the entire native and eskimo population in Alaska receive 100% free healthcare from the federal government. I look forward to more in depth discussion on the issues and positions as I think that if most voters consider what Republicans gave us over the last 7 years when they controlled both the WH and both houses then they don’t have much to stand on – except personality. But I never cease to be amazed at the stupidity of voters.

  18. Gov. Palin didn’t “expand” health insurance by any means. She merely brought children’s Medicaid/SCHIP income eligibility levels to current dollar values (they had been frozen at 2003 levels…did google tell you that?!).
    In fact her Health Care Strategies Planning Council wasn’t even ready to make recommendations on insurance coverage…what health care strategies did she want them to plan?
    If Gov. Palin can’t support expanding coverage in Alaska, will she support expanding coverage for the nation?

  19. Good information, but it needs some context. Palin did sign a bill bringing Alaska’s eligibility threshold for children’s coverage to 175% of the federal poverty level in 2007. This leaves Alaska tied for second to last place among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the generosity of its State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Only North Dakota is less generous. And, USA Today yesterday reported that Palin did not support a bill this year that would have brought Alaska’s coverage of children to 200% of the federal poverty level, as 45 states already have done. More work still needs to be done to make sure we’re looking beyond Sarah Palin’s personal story and asking the hard questions about where she stands on real health policy issues. It still is important to know what she thinks of McCain’s support for President Bush’s decision last year to veto the bi-partisan bill that would have reauthorized and strengthened the federal government’s commitment to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program?

  20. I find it very interesting that the majority of people who are pro-choice are usually not concerned about healthcare for children. Yes, it may be wonderful that someone chooses to have a child, but if they cannot get proper healthcare and the child is “aborted” at the age of 2, 3, 4, etc. What was the point of having that child? Healthcare should be a right just as owning a gun is a right. Perhaps if everyone had proper physical AND mental healthcare, we wouldn’t have sick and depressed individuals going “postal” and using the gun that have a right to on themselves or others.

  21. In July 2007, Gov. Palin signed a bill into law expanding Child Health Coverage in Alaska. Google is your friend, folks. Use it.

  22. Isn’t this what’s so hypocritical of the Republican Party and their oh so “Christian” followers. They preach personal responsibility as they get bailouts from government for creating and selling fraudulant mortgage securities, then deny basic health coverage for children and families. Unfortunately I think this will be lost in this election as the GOP will campaign on personality and hate (as usual) not on the issues that will really improve peoples lives. So far I’ve not seen strong arguments from the Obama that I believe will gain him overwhelming support. This election may well run away for McCain and against Obama.

  23. Sure she will side with McCain and Bush. Why care about others her child will be well cared for as will all children of the Rich and powerful. As a country we waist so much. Dont seem to spend our money on making things better for Americans. We just spend on war letting the Rich get Richer,Spin, reelection never on anything worth while. Like caring for or curing the sick, protecting Earth from space, exploring space, we fight over the resources of our small planet and ignore the vast resources of space. We could be using clean power living in a clean world with a bright future but all we get is greedy folks who are power hungry who would say or do anything to further themselves at the expense of all. Maybe De evolution is truly real. But I would like to think not. This is as much the fault of Americans as who we Elect. For many of us fall for the lies spin and BS. If we spent the time to really research who we elect things would change for the better. Why do we allow such actions [Lies, spin, misdirection so nothing gets done just put off so one can get re elected] from our most powerful citizens? This is shameful.