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Busting Incrementalism - SCHIP step one
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Recently the editorial board of the Atlanta Journal Constitution presented its "myth busting" opinion about the SCHIP program being pushed in Congress which will greatly expand its reach from poor children to middle class children by redefining eligibility. Unsurprisingly the AJC is for it. Mike King, writing for the board offers these "corrections" to myths as proof that the suspicions by those opposing this expansion of government simply aren't true.

I'll take them one at a time:

Critics of a proposal to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program —- including the White House —- have stooped to misinformation and outright fabrication to justify opposing the idea. Here's a sampling:

Claim: Middle-class families will drop private coverage to enroll their kids in state programs. Faced with private premiums of $500 to $600 a month for minimal family coverage —- as opposed to less than $100 a month to cover their children under SCHIP —- some families may indeed take this risky option. But studies in the first 10 years of the program show the state programs are most popular among families who lose insurance coverage or through no fault of their own can't get coverage.
First the option isn't presently available to families who would be eligible under the new provisions of the act (3 to 4 times the poverty rate). So to opine that they wouldn't opt for $100 coverage vs. $600 coverage, if available is simply ludicrous.

Secondly, King never mentions one of the dominant reasons private health insurance is in the $500 to $600 range for families. State mandates, of which GA has plenty, drive the cost of insurance to that level and put it out of reach for many families.
In recent years, the number of mandated benefit laws has increased significantly, with most enacted at the state level, but a few applicable nationwide. According to the American Association of Health Plans (AAHP), more than 1,400 coverage mandates exist at the state and federal level. A survey of states conducted by the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA) documented that during 2001, every state had introduced bills mandating new benefits.

Overall, more than 550 new benefit mandates were introduced in all states, and 65 became law.
So, in fact, this is hardly a myth. We again see government claiming to solve a problem it is instrumental in creating.
Claim: The expanded program will cover families making up to $83,000 a year. The bill allows one high-cost state, New York, to apply for an upper income limit of $83,000, but the federal government could reject that request. (New Jersey would be allowed to continue covering children in families of four making up to $72,100 a year.) Otherwise, no federal matching funds would be provided for state programs with eligibility levels above 300 percent of poverty, or $61,800 for a family of four.
Note the argument here. No denial of the fact that the program allows what has been contended - middle class inclusion. King simply says "the federal government could reject the request". And, obviously, it could approve it too. The fact is the parameters for approval remain in the law. Consequently, should Democrats come to power, can anyone guess what would happen?

And, of course, right on cue, and as if to thumb its nose at King, NJ gives lie to the notion that even if rejected by the feds, some states have no intention of accepting the status quo:
New Jersey officials asked a federal judge Monday to block new Bush administration rules that would make it harder for states to enroll middle-income children in a popular government-subsidized health insurance program for children.


The state's program offers coverage to children from families earning up to 3 1/2 times the poverty level, or $72,275 for a family of four.
The intent is clear - expansion of the program beyond its original charter to provide insurance coverage to poor children.
Claim: Illegal immigrants will be able to sign up for benefits. It is against federal law for illegal immigrants to sign up for SCHIP programs. That wouldn't change.
Of course this claim is ludicrous on its face, given that illegal immigrants are already on the rolls and applicants aren't asked what their immigration status is when they apply.

And then there's this from Politico concerning the suspicion that the program was a "precursor" to expanding government involvement:
But a look back at the fine print of the 1993 “Hillarycare” debacle shows there may be a grain of truth in the Republican suspicions — and also demonstrates that the GOP believes there is still significant political power to be mined from one of the Clinton administration’s greatest political and tactical failures.

Back in 1993, according to an internal White House staff memo, then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s staff saw federal coverage of children as a “precursor” to universal coverage.

In a section of the memo titled “Kids First,” Clinton’s staff laid out backup plans in the event the universal coverage idea failed.

And one of the key options was creating a state-run health plan for children who didn’t qualify for Medicaid but were uninsured.

That idea sounds a lot like the current State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which was eventually created by the Republican Congress in 1997.

“Under this approach, health care reform is phased in by population, beginning with children,” the memo says. “Kids First is really a precursor to the new system. It is intended to be freestanding and administratively simple, with states given broad flexibility in its design so that it can be easily folded into existing/future program structures.”
Make no mistake, this is an earnest attempt by Democrats to incrementally expand government subsidized health care as a prelude to a larger attempt. President Bush is right to veto this bill. And regardless of the polls and banner headlines of the newspapers announcing "popular support" for its passage, rest assured the vast majority of that support comes from people thinking they're taking care of poor kids, not middle class kids.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I guess the CBO’s estimate ( ) of crowd out at ~50% is another example of misinformation and outright fabrication.

BTW, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri and New Jersey already provide SCHIP benefits to families making up to three times the federal poverty level.
Written By: jfw1961
URL: http://
I find this remarkable:

"Claim: Middle-class families will drop private coverage to enroll their kids in state programs. Faced with private premiums of $500 to $600 a month for minimal family coverage — as opposed to less than $100 a month to cover their children under SCHIP — some families may indeed take this risky option..."

Less than 30 words after stating the claim, they confirm the myth they want to bust!
Written By: abw
Well, I am relieved that if I move back to California my kids will have free insurance. Thanks everyone! How soon will we see families going to get insurance where Dad says, "Just for the wife and myself. The kids already have coverage."
Written By: Harun
URL: http://

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