President Bush has vetoed the SCHIP bill and recently the House failed to get enough votes to override that veto, sparking some harsh words and rhetoric as usual. So what is this piece of legislation?
SCHIP was initially passed in 1997 to provide health coverage for children who were not poor enough for Medicaid, but not wealthy enough for private insurance. It's a well-intentioned bill, but is riddled with problems. Currently, it covers about 7 million children nationwide. But Congress recently revamped the bill to increase coverage to include households that make up to 83K annual income. This would potentially expand the number of children covered to 10 million. Bush disagreed with the expansion and thus the veto. He basically wants to keep the bill as is, with a modest $5 billion increase in spending, as opposed to Congress' call for $35 billion increase.
When Bush vetoed the bill, he was immediately attacked for "not caring about the children" and opposing health care for our most innocent citizens (see my post about Pete Stark and some of the comments supporting him). Of course, those attacking him don't care much about the millions of innocents aborted each year in this country, but that's another post. Today, I need to clear up the facts amongst the politics.
First, Bush supports the SCHIP bill. He even asked for an increase in spending. So saying that he doesn't support health care for kids is simply disingenuous. Second, there are some big problems with this bill. Bush rightly complains that some states spend more than half of their SCHIP funds on care for adults (up to age 25) rather than children, violating the intent of the bill. If these states allocated their funds appropriately, there wouldn't be a need for such a dramatic increase in spending. Also, 60% of children currently eligible for SCHIP already have private insurance coverage. If the bill expanded as Congress wants, that number would increase to 77%. Bush argues that this would encourage families to drop private insurance to enroll in SCHIP, which means more Americans having their health care managed by the government and not private insurance, which is a bad thing.
There is nothing (except military protection) that the gov't can do better than the private sector, including health care. The more people who have health insurance via the private sector the better. Once we get the gov't involved, things get screwed up. And we're talking about health care, not delivering the mail. This is a big deal. So I think Bush is right to veto the bill. There's a reason why the US has the best quality health care in the world, and it's because the gov't (for the most part) is not involved. The closer we get to socialized medicine, the more that that will change. And quality of care will plummet, while costs skyrocket. Like someone said: If you think health care is expensive now, just wait 'till it's free.
But the Dems have pounced. They cherish the notion of more people dependent on the gov't. Why? Well, this is the foundation of their party. The more people who depend on the gov't, the more will vote Democrat. They are the party of gov't entitlements. Let's not kid ourselves. This isn't about taking care of children, folks. This is about politics as usual.
We ALL want kids to have health care. So we can stop with the "mean conservative" attacks. The fact is, a family making 83K a year can afford health coverage, that's already been noted ni the statistics. So I don't see where anyone can make an argument that expanding the bill is necessary. Again, 77% of eligible children already have health coverage. The idea isn't to get them health care. The idea is to get them GOVERNMENT FUNDED health care, and thus get them dependent on big brother. Yet, the rhetoric pours in:
Sen. John Kerry: "so help me, children will die, and some will end up with permanent disabilities." This is an off-the-cuff remark. There is no clinical evidence that expanding this bill would save lives. In fact, I could argue that shifting people from private care to gov't funded care would be detrimental.
Nancy Pelosi: "the Bush veto would prevent 10 million children from obtaining any health care at all." This is an outright lie! As mentioned, SCHIP already covers 7 million children. Pelosi's bill would only include 3 million more, of which 77% already have private health insurance. So what's the point? What good can this bill, and the $35 billion, actually do?
This is nothing but a power grab by Dems, and the power they seek is power over the American people who currently have choices in health care. Once we give up that power and become dependent on the gov't for anything, including health care, then we become part of the Democrat party's voting block...and they know it.
The GOP Congress cut noncitizen immigrants from the Medicaid rolls in 1996 and they were assaulted with the same "heartless" attacks. But Harvard economist George Borjas did a study and he found that after losing gov't coverage, a large proportion of these workers sought better jobs with better health coverage to the point that their overall insurance levels actually increased. Go figure, a free market society actually works better for the people! Take the gov't out of the picture and the people fare better. Why would SCHIP be any different?
Everyone wants to take care of the children, even cold-hearted conservatives like myself. And we all want to see the uninsured get health care. But there's a right way to do this. I've posted before on the multi-pronged approach to solving our uninsured problem. The right way doesn't involve the government. The AMA is wrong. The Democrats are wrong. Vetoing this bill was the right thing to do and I applaud the president for it. Government-funded health care would be a disaster.
Plus, there is nothing in the Constitution mandating the government to provide anything to the people except for liberty and military protection. Let's not over step our bounds.