By Sheba Sethi
Forty-seven million Americans do not have health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s yearly report. That’s more than one out of every six people in the country. In 2006, the number of uninsured people went up by 2.2 million, with 600,000 of them children.
If President Bush follows through with his threats about restrictions on eligibility and funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the number of uninsured people will increase yet again.
SCHIP was started in 1997 to provide lower-income families with health insurance for their children. Early in August, Congress passed a bill expanding the program.
Both the Senate and the House agreed that the program should continue and get extra money. The House proposed $50 billion and the Senate proposed $35 billion. But President Bush wants to give only $5 billion, and he made new restrictions about who can be in the program.
The president has vowed to veto any bill that gives more money than he wants to the program because his advisers say it will make more people dependent on welfare.
WHAT IS HEALTH INSURANCE?
People with health insurance pay a fee to make sure they can see a doctor if they get sick. Many people who can’t afford that fee are faced with big doctors’ bills when they do get sick.