Are our 18- to 22-year-olds our lost or forgotten children?

When a child turns 18 in our society they are considered grown, yet they can’t buy alcohol until 21, so in many cases they aren’t grown until 21, yet many if not most are thrown out into the hard cold world with very little support as adults.

What am I talking about? The lack of health care or educational funding for this age group.

Until Obamacare, when a child reached 18, even if he or she was going to college, they were dropped from the family health insurance, if they had insurance. And if the mother was on welfare the child was dropped at 18. If the child was in Foster Care, he was dropped from health care at 18.

Now you have a child stepping out into this hard cold world with no job, no education and no health care.

Well now under Obamacare the parents can keep them until age 26 but for those families who don’t have health insurance, too bad.

What is really sad is that kids who are going to college without the help of their parents can’t get health care unless they have kids. This is telling young girls to get pregnant. They are told you have to either have a child or a job. Well, carrying a full load in college is equal to a full time job. College is not easy, or cheap and getting out in just four years is even harder but it saves you a lot of money if you do. Kids are told to pull good grades, take a full load of classes, while still maintaining a job, yet they still can’t get health care. I’ve been in college and I know how hard it is to carry a full load of classes while trying to work. Something suffers, which leads me to emphasize that a full load in classes should be equal to a job to qualifying for health care.

How many kids have pre existing health problems such as allergies, high blood pressure, diabetes and other problems that have to go neglected because they don’t have health insurance? How many have had to see these conditions get worse because they don’t have health care?

An education along with health care is one of the most important privileges we have in this country. And it should be a right, not a privilege. I agree with the original Obama health care plan, not the watered down version being implemented, that everyone, regardless of income should have access to health care, and an education. Not just k through the 12th grade but tech school or college after high school.

Certain doors should automatically open to a child entering college. One such door should be health care as long as they are in school carrying a full load and maintaining a C average. And there should be more grants and scholarships available to them, as well as low interest loans that don’t come due as soon as they graduate.

Our young people are the future of this country. Education is the foundation of what makes this country great. If we have well educated and healthy young people then it benefits us all.

We talk about balancing the budget. Well young people working and paying taxes instead of being in the criminal system collecting taxes makes a huge difference. These young people buy houses, cars, clothes, food you name it, at a much higher rate than older people. You want to boost the economy? Just make sure more young people are educated.

Healthy young people are a must as well. How many young people go into their first job with all kinds of health problems because they couldn’t afford to take care of them before because they had no insurance? Think of how much more insurance companies pay out because these young people were not covered before.

I strongly feel that if a child is in college and their parents cannot afford it, and the student is carrying a full load in college or a trade or tech school, then they should have free health care until they finish school. Call it an investment in our future.

Once you walk into the classroom we are all equal. We all must pull the grades. But we shouldn’t be denied because we don’t have the money. Thank God for the Pittsburgh Promise and other programs like it. But I think it should go further. Any kid who graduates from high school should be eligible for the money as long as they pull a C average in college. It should have nothing to do with high school GPA’s because many students do far better in college than high school.

I’ve paid taxes for a long, long time, and I can’t see a better use of our tax dollars than making sure our kids are able to go to college, and be healthy while they are there. How many kids have had to drop out because of health? If there’s help for pregnant girls, then there should be help for girls and boys who decide to make something of themselves by getting an education. One of the reasons for helping the pregnant girls is because of the child. Then lets’ think of that child at age 18 to 22. Why are we dropping our youth like a hot potato, when they need us most?

I’m not talking about the dropouts. I’m not talking about the criminals hanging in the streets slinging dope. I’m not talking about the young girls having baby after baby. I’m not talking about the kids who don’t want anything and don’t want anyone else to have anything. I’m talking about our kids who have made the effort to stay in school, to further their education so they can get a meaningful job so they can leave their parents’ house to create and support their own families while becoming a productive part of America.

That’s the true American dream. We need to make that dream into a reality by making sure we help and support our young people who are pursuing that by providing health care and financial support to them. They will pay us back through the taxes they pay for the rest of their lives.  

(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier. He can be reached at ucarter@newpittsburghcourier.com)


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