Alexandra Starr

Alexandra Starr is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

Recent Articles

Children First

B ipartisan consensus is a concept rarely associated with the current U.S. Congress. One policy issue, however, has drawn support from both sides of the aisle in recent years: addressing the plight of the nation's 10 million uninsured children. After all, children are the segment of the population least able to control whether or not they are insured. They are also the least expensive to cover. Unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of the 1994 debacle, the most significant investment the federal government has made in health care is the creation of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There are now two government programs available to lower-income, uninsured children: Medicaid, which serves our most destitute children, and CHIP, which is targeted toward kids in working-class families. Gregg Haifley of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) estimates that two-thirds of uninsured children qualify for Medicaid or CHIP. Yet these children continue to go without insurance--and not because...

Chipping Away at the Uninsured

W ith Bill Bradley out of the presidential race, Vice President Gore's proposal to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) remains the one comprehensive proposal on the table in the presidential election to address the plight of the 44 million Americans who lack health insurance. But CHIP is far from an ideal foundation for expanding coverage. The program has gotten off to a slow start, and it suffers from some critical weaknesses that may haunt its future. Under CHIP, the fed-eral government subsidizes health insurance for kids whose families cannot afford private insurance but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. When lawmakers established the program in 1997, they were addressing a pressing problem. The number of children without health insurance has crept steadily upward in recent years. Employers of low-wage workers have increasingly balked at paying for comprehensive family coverage, and declining welfare rolls have left more families without insurance. According...