U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician, offered an alternative to the State Children's Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) last night that would have given all SCHIP children access to the same health care members of Congress provide to their children. Yet, the Coburn amendment was defeated 36-62. The Coburn amendment would have avoiding raising taxes by $71 billion, as did the plan that passed.
"Without spending a penny more, this alternative would have given needy children access to the same health care plan that Members of Congress provide to their own kids. Yet, the Senate refused to give working Americans access to the same choices and quality of care they give their own children. By doing so, Senators showed they are more committed to maintaining the ideological purity of single-payer, government-controlled health care than solving this problem in a common sense manner," Dr. Coburn said.
Dr. Coburn's SCHIP alternative would have established a program to competitively bid private insurance coverage for eligible children. The plan would have covered any child whose parents are living below 300% of the federal poverty level, which is equivalent to a family of four making less than $63,600 a year. Currently, SCHIP is run by the same bureaucrats that run state Medicaid programs, which gives limited access to patients. Forty percent of qualified physicians refuse to participate in Medicaid.
"When Senators visit with their constituents they should ask them whether they would want their children in SCHIP or a top tier plan a Senators provide to their own kids. Senators should also ask whether parents should have the right to make choices about health care for their kids or whether those choices should be made for them by career politicians and government bureaucrats," Dr. Coburn said. "Sadly, this debate showed once again that Congress, unlike President Obama, is not interested in change but in recycling the same failed Soviet-style health care policies of the past."
Dr. Coburn also offered three additional amendments that would have added greater financial transparency to the program.