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Bush Aims to End Life-Saving Programs for Kids & Families

Brain Injury, Trauma, Rural & Urban Health Services Affected

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Updated June 28, 2005
The Bush budget proposal for 2006 includes $788 million in cuts to Health & Human Services Department (HHSD) programs, in addition to Medicaid and Medicare. (In contrast, Bush presently spends $788 million in 86 hours in Iraq.)

“…our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life,” pronounced the President as he signed the Terri Schiavo legislation on March 21.

“We in government have a duty to protect the weak, disabled and vulnerable” trumpeted the President’s brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, early this week in his crusade to reinsert Mrs. Schiavo’s feeding tube.

Republican powerbroker Congressman Tom DeLay , scorning the morality of Mrs. Schiavo’s husband, proclaimed “It won’t take a miracle to help Terri Schiavo. It will only take the medical care and therapy that patients require.”

Given these touching Republican testimonies of respect for life and patient care, I couldn’t imagine what HHSD programs the Bush Administration found to cut back or terminate. So I investigated.

Turns out Bush 2006 HHSD budget cuts are quite contradictory to their impassioned pro-family, pro-life rhetoric.

The Bush budget entirely eliminates 14 programs for children and families. Tom DeLay pushed the Bush budget to House approval last week.

And despite their public pleadings to keep Terri Schiavo connected to a life-supporting tube, Bush and DeLay plan to kill the federal Traumatic Brain Injury program that helps thousands of Terri Schiavos.

Among HHSD programs slated by Bush to be terminated in 2006 are:

Traumatic Brain Injury Program – Benefits children and adults in the same situation as Terri Schiavo by assisting states to expand access to services for brain-injured persons and their families. Since 1997, brain-injury victims in 49 states have been helped through this life-preserving program.

Emergency Medical Services for Children – Is an initiative to reduce child/youth disability and death due to severe illness and injury. Medical personnel, parents, volunteers, community groups and businesses all participate in this joint program.

Children & Families Community Service Programs – Covers children with disabilities, child abuse & neglect, adoption & foster care, services for refugees & Native Americans, disaster assistance, temporary assistance for needy families, child support, early childhood education, missing children & runaways and much more.

Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grants – Funds hundreds of local programs related to heart disease and stroke, infectious diseases, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, hypertension, oral health and more. This program provides vital support to Governors’ councils on Physical Fitness and Sports campaigns and health events. It also pays for fluoridation of community water.

Healthy Community Access Program – Helps to build access to health services for needy, uninsured families in about 200 urban and rural areas and on tribal lands.

Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Program for Infants – Identifies infants with hearing loss by universal screening of all babies. Interventions help the development of visual and spoken language and cognitive thinking skills in children.

Trauma-Emergency Medical Services Systems – Improves the quality of community acute trauma care in maternal and child health, primary health care and HIV/AIDS services by providing mentoring and training programs for trauma care workers.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Bush plans to eliminate all congressional-earmarked funding, which is usually for research & development. The CDC promotes health and quality of life in the US in environmental health, infectious diseases, birth defects, immunizations, chronic diseases, HIV and STDs, epidemiology and more.

The President also plans to radically chop, but not eliminate, many programs, including the Health Care for Rural Populations Program, which funds hospitals, clinics and health care in rural populations, especially for special needs and disabled people.

What’s next for Bush cuts in Health & Human Services programs? The Senate, in a bipartisan voice, rejected Bush budget cuts from HHSD services, saying that the US has a moral obligation to support health and a high quality of life for all of is citizens, including children, elderly, rural populations, low-income families and the disabled.

And brain-injured persons like Terri Schiavo.

The Senate and House continue to forge a final budget agreement for these programs, to be sent soon the President Bush for his signature. It appears as of late June 2005, that the rural health programs will definitely be eliminated in 2006.

It will be fascinating to see whether the “pro-life in words” Bush Administration succeeds in eliminating life-supporting and life-honoring HHSD programs. Or if the “pro-life in actions” Senate prevails in maintaining providing HHSD services to US families and children.

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