Howard Coble - Loves Tobacco, Hates Children

Friday's Southern Pines Pilot reports that Howard Coble, (R)NC-06, opposed the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)known here in North Carolina as Health Choice,

because of the devastating impact the bill would have on North Carolina's tobacco industry, and also because he sees the legislation as a first step toward socialized medicine


Spouting the same talking points as right wing nuts on Faux Noise, Coble told The Pilot in a press release that he opposed the bill because he thought it took the United States "closer to socialized medicine" (he says this as if it's a bad thing), and that because the bill pays for the expanded program in part by putting a higher tax on cigarettes, it will hurt our tobacco farmers.

The Children's Defense Fund estimates that there are "nine million children in the US uninsured, and millions more underinsured". How many of those do you suppose are in North Carolina? In 2005, the latest year I could find numbers for, 11.9% of the children (ages 0-17) in North Carolina had no health coverage at all. The last population estimate at says that NC's under 18 population is 24.7% of our people. That works out to 2,187,557 children. Of those children, 260,319 have no health coverage. At all.
That's not including children who were covered by HealthChek(Medicaid) or Health Choice(SCHIP). (That brings the total up close to 600,000 children who need assistance with health insurance.) And of course - that's not counting the thousands of other families who are covered, but are underinsured.

It sure is hard to wrap your head around that many children. Let's break it down. The average elementary school class is 26 students.(pdf) So if you have children in school, think about the fact that statistically, probably 3 of their classmates have no health insurance.

I wonder why that's okay with Howard Coble? Apparently, he'd choose to have you be able to buy a pack of smokes cheaply rather than have one of your children's classmates, or indeed, one of your children, get the immunizations they need to stay healthy.

Why would that be? Could it be because since 1989 he's accepted $123,632 from the Tobacco industry?

Please drop Howard a line and let him know that smoking's not cool, and Health Care for Children is. Especially if you live in District 06.


For what it's worth,

The SCHIP reauthorization passed the House, and is expected to pass the Senate. Bush has threatened to veto it because Faux Noise told him it's socialized medicine. We need to let Senators Dole and Burr know that NC takes their children's health very seriously, and if Bush does veto it, we expect them to help override it.

wandering off into my fantasy land now where everything is warm, all children are healthy, and all music is Pearl Jam

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

free cigarettes in Coble's office

I remember visiting D.C. with my U.S. History class in the 1990's, and a few of my classmates got some free packs of cigarettes that Coble had in his waiting room.

Does he still offer free cigarettes at his office?

I didn't see any

in March when I was there this year, but I didn't know to look for them. I wish I had.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi