Via the American Prospect: Entering an already crowded and contentious field, a 10-year-old girl named Susie Flynn has announced her candidacy for president of the United States. So far, refreshingly, buzz about her campaign has not focused on whether America is ready for a tween president, or whether Flynn is black enough, but rather on the issues. Or, really, the issue -- that of the estimated 9 million children currently living without health insurance.
Susie's "campaign," actually, is a publicity campaign launched by the Children's Defense Fund to draw attention to the plight of SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Susie's Web site is a bit too vague about SCHIP itself, and the whole enterprise a bit too cute, but hey, whatever it takes to draw attention to an underreported problem.
SCHIP, which provides health insurance to 6 million children (and some adults) not covered by Medicaid, is facing a funding emergency. As the Hill reports, "High up the agenda of the National Governors Association (NGA) winter meeting that ended Monday were demands for $745 million in new federal money to keep as many as 14 states from having to take drastic actions to keep their State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIPs) afloat through the end of the fiscal year." And that's the short term: Analysts say the Bush administration's new proposed spending plan could cut funds from the program to the tune of $10 billion to $15 billion over the next five years. (As of yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee will reportedly include SCHIP funds in a supplemental military appropriations bill.)
What does Ms. Flynn plan to do about all this? Presumably, she supports the Children's Defense Fund proposal to "simplify and consolidate children's health coverage under Medicaid and SCHIP into a single program that guarantees children in all 50 states and the District of Columbia all medically necessary services." Such a guarantee might have saved 12-year-old Deamonte Driver, who died Sunday of a tooth infection that -- had he been insured -- could, arguably, have been treated routinely before it spread to his brain.