Akron Beacon Journal, Jan. 15
The Children’s Health Insurance Program should have gained congressional reauthorization months ago. The renewal should have come before its budget expired at the end of September. The program long has received broad bipartisan support. Yet Congress has disappointed in failing to get the job done.
What the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and its allies, nationally and in other states, find troubling is how the program has become tangled up in the bargaining among lawmakers over a larger spending bill. On Friday, the children’s hospital groups urged passage of a “clean,” five-year extension of the program.
By “clean,” they mean on its own, free of the horse-trading. That is what the program deserves, and would echo past practice. …
… Ohio isn’t one of the states sending warning letters to parents about a potential interruption in coverage. It operates CHIP through the Medicaid program. The loss of funding, projected here for the end of February, would translate to fewer federal matching dollars, costing an estimated $15 million per month, leaving officials with hard choices about priorities in making up the difference. …
… Two decades ago, 14 percent of children lacked health insurance. Today, the share is roughly 5 percent. (The progress aided by the Affordable Care Act, too.)
It hardly surprises that the program results in healthier children, and better outcomes more broadly in their lives, from something as simple as eyeglasses to improved academic performance. What also deserves attention is how CHIP works as the necessary insurance option for many children with special needs, who require, frequent, comprehensive and expensive care.
If there is an agreement in principle among Democrats and Republicans on extending the program for five years, one of the obstacles to passage has been paying for the cost. House Republicans added a partisan twist in proposing cuts to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. Republicans were not as concerned about the $1.5 trillion added to the deficits and national debt by their tax cuts.
Actually, CHIP is cheap, now $800 million for the decade after the Congressional Budget Office recalculated the cost due to the repeal of the individual mandate. Which is another reason for Congress to act quickly — and cleanly.
The Blade, Jan. 15
The gruesome details that have trickled out about a 4-year-old Michigan girl’s death are hard to stomach.
Gabrielle Barrett, 4, of Washtenaw County was found dead in her mobile home with burns and bruises over her entire body. According to a court document obtained by the Detroit Free Press, Gabrielle’s burns were so bad that her big toe fell off and skin was found in the drain of the bathtub.
Stories such as this are soul-sucking and force us to face mankind’s fallibility and potential evilness. There is no place in this world for the person or persons who did this to young Gabrielle. Our hope, however, is that there is a special place in hell for such wickedness.
As a society, we must do more to protect our children from real-life monsters.
Gabrielle’s mother, Candice Diaz, and her boyfriend, Brad Fields, were captured in Georgia and charged with murder, child abuse, and torture in the girl’s death.
The couple have a long string of diagnosed mental illnesses but admitted that they had not been taking their medicine.
When police went to the child’s mobile home in 2016 on a domestic assault call, officers described the home as filthy, with decaying food, flies, and dog feces in the child’s bedroom.
Is this, along with the extensive mental illness history of the adults in the home, not enough for people to ask questions? To take any children from the home until the parents prove they are fit? To at least cause family members or child services workers to stop by?
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has now filed a court document seeking to have Gabrielle’s 1-year-old half-sister removed from the home because of “improper supervision and physical abuse resulting in a child death.”
It is ridiculous that a court order even needs to be filed. But no judge will be able to save Gabrielle. Hers is another life snuffed out much too soon. Her death should result in serious questions about how we can do better in protecting our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. It is obvious that not enough is being done now.