Kid Health

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: President Clinton's biggest setback in his first term was over nationalizing health insurance. Commentator Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis says a different version of that fight could crop up again this year.

My NCPA colleague Dr. Merrill Matthews warns the same crowd who pushed Bill Clinton's discredited health care reforms are on the warpath again. This time, they want a plan for children, but the m.o. is the same: massive government solutions for problems that don't exist.

The "crisis" this time: kids and expectant mothers can't get adequate care and insurance. The facts say otherwise.

Ninety-four percent of women get pre-natal care. Virtually all children are immunized by the time they reach school age.

There are pockets of uninsured children, but these are explained by individual circumstances. For example, Wisconsin's total is 7.3 percent. New Mexico's is 25 percent because of its higher share of immigrants.

The fact is, the share of uninsured children has remained relative stable for a decade. Now, there is a problem. In 1989, 63 percent of children got health insurance through their parents' employers. By 1993 that dropped to 57 percent, while Medicaid coverage rose. Employers couldn't afford the premiums. Meanwhile, as states impose mandates outlawing plans that fail to cover everything from marriage counseling to drug abuse, more employers cancel policies, more kids go uninsured.

If that's a crisis, it's a government-made one.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Host outro: Violent crime is down in many places. So why do Americans still rate it as a top concern? Pete du Pont explains all on Wednesday.

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