Congress should extend CHIP for kids

Few members of Congress seem to disagree that federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program should be continued. It serves an estimated 8.9 million youngsters whose parents have moderate incomes, but not low enough to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

A bipartisan bill extending support of CHIP for five years is advancing through the U.S. Senate. It should be approved both there and in the House of Representatives.

But the measure’s very desirability may make it a problem. As so often is the case, lawmakers aware the funding bill has wide support have begun adding amendments to it. They include everything from increased federal aid to hospitals to steps intended to rein in runaway insurance premiums.

Each and every one of them should be rejected.

Very few appropriations bills make it through Congress in “clean” form. That is, most are used as vehicles to provide money for unrelated purposes. That is one reason the United States has a $20 trillion national debt.

CHIP funding should be extended — but through a clean bill including only money for that purpose.

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Developed nations probably could do more to alleviate hunger and illness in third-world countries. But blaming ourselves solely for every outbreak and famine that occurs simply is not honest.

Dr. Peter Salama, head of the United Nations’ World Health Organization, engaged in a bit of self-recrimination this week. The WHO should have sent more vaccine to Yemen to combat a surge of cholera there, he told reporters.

Perhaps so. But this summer, when the agency planned to send a million doses of cholera vaccine to Yemen, that country’s government said no. Salama, acting as an apologist for Yemeni officials, explained they felt a million doses was not enough.

It could have saved lives, however. Some of the about 2,000 Yemenis killed by cholera this year might have survived had their government accepted WHO’s offer.

Similar frustration is experienced often, as corrupt regimes either take donated medicine and food and sell it, or, as occurred a few years ago, allow an entire shipment of vaccine to sit in trucks so long it becomes useless.

Yes, we could do more. But part of any plan to accomplish that will have to be convincing some third-world governments to act in their people’s best interests.

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