36,000 American Kids Dead–a Pre-existing Condition

A Red State Booster Shot

By Alec MacGillis
Sunday, May 31, 2009

Those in the red states still smarting over Barack Obama’s election victory can perhaps take solace in this: The Democrats’ No. 1 domestic policy initiative, universal health care, is likely to help red America at the expense of blue.

. . . “The cost of health care benefits was very much a factor in plant relocations in the eighties,” said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. “And now we end up paying for [Sun Belt health care] anyway? It’s incredible.”

. . . “There’s a big regional backdrop to this,” said Harvard health policy professor Robert Blendon. “Those who are the beneficiaries of all this money that’s going to be floating around is one group of states, and who’s going to have to pay for the taxes if they lift this exemption is another group.”

For example, he said, if you’re a New York policeman married to a nurse and your combined salaries are $80,000, your health insurance will be taxed to pay for a family in Mississippi. “I’m trying to figure out how Chuck Schumer can raise his hands and say this is a good thing if New York workers are going to be such losers based on taxes,” he said.
Ah yes, the university professors (those guys who kiss their well-insured kids goodnight) are quick to check in on inequities and unfairnesses.

I’ll tell you what’s unfair. Unfair is watching your kid die of whooping cough or an asthma attack because a hospital wouldn’t treat them. Unfair is wringing your hands with the absolute terror of getting through another night with nothing between you and your child’s ability to breathe but steam from the kitchen stove.

If my anger shows, it’s because 36,000 kids die every year–not from drug overdose or suicide, but 14,364 from perinatal conditions. Another 6,700 are buried because of congenital anomalies, 2,500 neoplasms, 3,300 respiratory and circulatory diseases, 1,600 nervous system complications and a couple thousand from sudden infant death syndrome. A hundred kids a day, seven days a week. But, for the most part, they are not university professor’s kids, not Senator’s or Congressmen’s kids, maybe not even yours.
A single child needlessly dead is a tragedy. 36,000 funerals is merely a news report and a subject of mindless conjecture about where the costs should be allocated.
Who allocates the pain? That falls unfairly on the shoulders of those outside the debate.
If you’ve ever watched a child die (and I have), you won’t forget the agony and frustration, the grief that spreads like a wave throughout the extended family. Those in charge of crafting a healthcare system, particularly the experts and legislators, will never be close enough to the issue to even smell the coffee, much less the fear and exhaustion.

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