“We all like cuddly little babies, but the reality is our nation can no longer afford them.” – President Obama to Congress
WASHINGTON ─ Both the House and Senate passed bi-partisan legislation today raising the birth age in the United States to five. The President is expected to sign the bill into law when Congress delivers it later in the week.
Babies will now be required to begin life weaned, potty trained and ready for kindergarten, a cost saving measure lawmakers insist will help fund the President’s Affordable Care Act.
President Obama called the bill a milestone in health care. “We all like cuddly little babies, but the reality is our nation can no longer afford them. This legislation ushers in a new era in the affordability of health care.”
Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, said the measure does not go far enough: “We wanted to see a birth age of twenty-one to bypass adolescence as well, but most of the experts we heard from claim that a twenty-one year gestation would be more costly in the long run than childhood itself. As I understand it, it’s something about the physical limits of endurance for women. I don’t understand the science there because I’m not a woman, men have plenty of endurance, but until we work that out five years is a good place to start.”
According to a recent report by the American Pediatric Association, medical costs in the first five years of life account for almost half of the total health related cost of raising a child to adulthood. These figures do not include the cost of food and utilities for children living in their parents’ basements the last nineteen years of childhood from age eighteen to thirty seven.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius responded that the measure will save much more than just the projected $17.5 billion in pediatric costs. “We have thousands of people in my department alone that can now be reassigned to more pressing concerns like banning the extensive list of foods we’ve been demonizing for so long but haven’t had the manpower to work on. This is a windfall.”
Diane Pulver, Senior Vice President of Gerber Products, North America, promised to challenge the legislation in court. “It’s bad policy and bad law. Studies have shown that people who don’t get strained peas as a baby will most likely never taste a pea in their life, not to mention kumquats, beets and spaghetti pudding.”
The American Medical Association released a statement by e-mail lauding the measure by Congress as a boon for doctors. “Babies are the most difficult patients to treat,” the statement read in part. “Eliminating the ‘non-responsive years’ ─ those when patients cannot speak directly to their doctor about their symptoms and condition ─ will greatly increase both the ease and the efficacy of medical treatment for children.”
Public reaction has been mixed. Many question what the new law says about children currently between the ages of zero and five.
“Eight months too late,” one new father responded, speaking to reporters by phone at three o’clock in the morning with a baby crying loudly in the background. “That’s the problem with this Congress; they debate and debate and debate until someone’s life gets ruined.”
“Are we supposed to put them back in?” one new mother asked from the maternity ward of her hospital in Trenton, New Jersey. “I don’t think I could stand it again, especially going backward. It would be like trying to push a basketball through the small end of a funnel … my funnel.”
Diaper manufacturers expect no economic impact from the new law, citing plans to resize existing products to fit bigger kids and pregnant women.