Keep pushing

Published 11:29 pm Thursday, September 18, 2008

By Staff
A Goldsboro pediatrician, Dr. David Tayloe, and other child advocates are asking North Carolina’s congressional delegation to improve education and health-insurance programs that benefit children.
That request came Tuesday during the Action for Children North Carolina’s Step Up and Act for Children event at the state capitol. Action for Children North Carolina’s mission, according to its Web site, is to advocate for child well-being by educating and engaging all people across the state to ensure that North Carolina children are healthy, safe, well-educated and have every opportunity for success.
At Tuesday’s event, according to a report by The Associated Press, Tayloe, a Washington native, said the government’s low reimbursement rates discourage doctors from caring for children under public health-insurance programs. Tayloe said increasing those payments would help ensure access.
Tayloe’s prescription should be filled by Congress because it will help improve health-insurance coverage for children who need it most.
Step Up and Act for Children also focused on issues such as juvenile justice, the No Child Left Behind Act and Child Tax Credit.
Louisa Warren, representing the North Carolina Justice Center, called on the lawmakers to lower the household-income threshold for federal Child Tax Credits. Warren contends the existing $25,000 minimum keeps low-income families from qualifying for the full amount.
That seems like a reasonable suggestion.
ACNC contends that one in five children in North Carolina would be helped by lowering the minimum threshold to $8,500. There’s a bill that would help accomplish that. It’s a bill that, if nothing else, at least deserves consideration by members of the state’s congressional delegation. Passage of the bill would be even better.
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that about 70 percent of the children who would benefit by passage of the bill live in families in which a parent works 30 or more hours a week for at least 50 weeks during the year and that nearly one in 10 children who would benefit from passage of the bill live in families in which a parent or child has a disability.
ACNC’s contention that ending the annual increases for inflation would make sure that families whose incomes do not rise would remain eligible for the tax credits each year appears sound, considering the rising costs of gasoline and food that many families are finding difficult to deal with.
Taking all that into consideration, it makes sense for North Carolina families to ask their U.S. senators and representatives to expand eligibility for the Child Tax Credit by lowering the earnings threshold to $8,500 and ending annual inflation increases.
It’s comforting to know that individuals such as Tayloe and organizations like ACNC are looking out for the best interests of North Carolina’s children. Let’s hope the state’s congressional delegation will do what needs to be done to protect those children who cannot protect themselves.