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Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. LINDER. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program, which started in 1997, was for children, for children who lived in families who did not qualify for Medicaid but still needed health insurance programs. Today, four States have more adults in the program than children. It is being abused.

The health insurance program for children also required, originally, those in this country to show that they lived in this country legally, to have documentation. This program removes that proof. You now need only to say, ``Yes, I am here legally.'' It also removes the 5-year requirement. When you are here legally and you are sponsored by someone, they have to be responsible for taking care of your needs for 5 years. This is removed. What will happen if we follow on with an amnesty bill for the 20 million illegals who would be immediately eligible for the SCHIP program? Would it then be fully funded?

The funding, by the way, mostly by tobacco, falls on low-income people. The burden on the lowest 20 percent with the tobacco program is 37 times more burdensome than were it funded by an income tax. It also requires 22 million new smokers just to pay the bill. I want to see the majority go recruit them.

It is estimated that 2.4 million people will drop private insurance; families will drop because they qualify. Employers paying employees less than $80,000 a year will drop it. This isn't mean-spirited; it is in their interest. We saw this happen before.

In 1965, every physician and dentist in America had a file drawer full of patients that they treated for free. It was their community responsibility. When Medicare and Medicaid came along, they said, ``Well, my taxes are going up to pay for that. The government will now do it.'' And they dropped that responsibility, and the burden fell on the taxpayer.

With the upper limit disregards in this program on income ceilings, we essentially make 75 percent of all Americans eligible for the program. Again, I repeat. I have heard it said many times it is fully funded. And Lyndon Johnson said that about Medicare and Medicaid. I was in dental school and watched his great society speech. He said, ``We know, using easily quantifiable user statistics that, by 1990, Medicare will only cost $9 billion and Medicaid will only cost $1 billion.'' He was wrong. Medicare costs over $100 billion; Medicaid costs over $75 billion, and those entitlements are breaking this country.

The same is going to happen when the ceilings are taken off incomes and other people are put into this program. It will not be fully funded by tobacco.

This program will pay less than one-half the reimbursement to providers through Medicare or SCHIP that currently Blue Cross pays. And those providers are going to disappear from the program. We are already seeing it in Medicare and Medicaid. Who is going to be left to treat these people?

There was a real bipartisan effort to reauthorize this program last year, to expand its income protections and to increase the money to pay for it. It wasn't enough for the majority. They wanted to make it for everybody all of the time. This will not work.

I will vote against it.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. LINDER. Madam Speaker, I would like to point out that nobody on this side opposes children. The SCHIP program was started under the Republican majority in 1997, principal sponsor being Republican Senator ORRIN HATCH.

We believe the program was a good start in allowing for the health coverage of children whose parents did not qualify for Medicaid. What will destroy this program is a lack of restraint and irresponsible expansion of it.

It is true we are in the midst of a global economic collapse. And what has caused that? Abuse, lack of restraint, corporate leaders spending other people's money, shareholders, ignored limitations, ignored risks, ignored warning signs, and gave us the problem we have in the economy.

What makes us different? We are spending other people's money and we're spending more and more of it. We have a GAO study that says that if we continue to spend in our discretionary spending at the current percentage of the overall economy, and if we continue to tax at 19 percent of GDP, which is about the average since 1945, that in just 31 years from today, the entire Federal revenue stream will be insufficient to pay the interest on the debt because of entitlements, Social Security, Medicare, which is much worse than Social Security, Medicaid.

And to solve those programs in the face of President Obama's desire to get a handle on entitlements, we stand here today proposed to add a new one. It is true that this is designed as a block grant program. But there are no limitations on it. This will go out of control just like all of the other programs have, and our children will pay.

Madam Speaker, I hope we all oppose this.

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