SCHIP SHENANIGANS - Op Ed
Congressman Jack Kingston
In Washington, one thing you can always count on is that all legislation is passed for "the children, the seniors, the poor, the family, the environment, mama, and puppies." Politicians are very altruistic with your money. That's why Nancy Pelosi, when lecturing Congress about SCHIP, used the word "children" 44 times.
But while putting a face on a cause is good politics, it may not be good policy. Let's examine the new SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) legislation.
SCHIP was created and passed by a Republican Congress 10 years ago. Its purpose was to help working poor families obtain affordable health care. These are low income individuals who could quit working and get better health care by qualifying for Medicaid. Obviously this is not in the public interest so a state grant program was created.
But like most government programs, SCHIP strayed from its intended design and became a boon for politicians who aggressively enrolled everyone they could, regardless of age and income. Under the Pelosi Democrat version this trend will accelerate and sets the stage for government sponsored universal healthcare.
First of all, the program won't be limited to the working poor. Families with household income up to $83,000 will qualify. Such income doesn't make you rich but it certainly doesn't mean you are poor. The result is 2 million people will drop their private insurance in order to take advantage of the "free" federal coverage. Why not? Everyone hates paying insurance premiums. If Uncle Sam is giving it away, why be a sucker and keep shelling out your own cash?
Secondly, the "children's" program won't be limited to kids. Under the expansion nearly 800,000 adults will qualify - even before all the kids are enrolled. And why limit it to Americans? The Pelosi Democrat bill throws out the citizenship test. Now to qualify, just show a valid Social Security Number. After all, no one would lie about having a Social Security Number. And by the way, Georgia now joins the top three states in having the fastest growing illegal alien population in America.
What's the cost of all this? SCHIP goes from $25 billion to $60 billion. But don't worry, Washington knows best - we'll let the smokers pay for it. And smoking may even have a lower approval rating than Congress! Besides, it's just a jump of $.61 a pack and up to $3.00 a cigar. But there's an accounting glitch, we're about 9 million smokers short the first 5 years. And after that, we'll need 22 million new smokers to pay for it. This is from a government that spends billions a year telling people not to smoke.
The President vetoed this sham Wednesday. Now we can go back to the table and draw up something that makes more sense. We need something that improves the existing program, corrects what's broken and strengthens what works; like the proposal offered by Congressman Nathan Deal. Among other things, it requires that poor children come first. His plan truly does what is best "for the children!"