Walden: Crowding Children Out of Private Insurance, Massive Hidden Costs, Benefits for Illegal Aliens Among SCHIP Bill Concerns
Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today issued the following statements following the House passage of H.R. 976, the massive expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
"SCHIP is a successful and worthy program for children across the country in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private coverage. I feel strongly that Congress must reauthorize SCHIP and fully fund it, which is why I have cosponsored legislation (HR 3584) to do just that. But what the House voted on today made dramatic and financially unsustainable changes to the current program.
"To hide the true cost of the measure, the bill cuts SCHIP funding by approximately 80 percent in FY 2013. It's logical to presume that the supporters of the bill do not actually intend to cut SCHIP by 80 percent, which would force millions of children off the program. Therefore, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the real cost of the proposal is much more than advertised - likely more than $110 billion, which is more than a doubling of the cost of the current program. Children's health care should not be predicated on budget gimmicks.
"The House Rules Committee did not receive text of the 299-page legislation until 6:30 pm last night, and that was the first time Republicans were allowed to view the proposal we voted on today. The bill came to the House floor without the opportunity to offer amendments or an alternative proposal and without a single hearing. This is no way to legislate.
"The President has made it clear that he will veto this measure. So it is frustrating that children's health care is caught in Washington's political crosshairs. It's time for Congress and the White House to sit down in good faith and work out a reauthorization plan for children's health that can become the law of the land."
H.R. 976 shifts the focus of SCHIP away from low-income children
Instead of focusing on children who fall in the gap between qualifying for Medicaid and affording private insurance, this bill targets middle class children, many of whom already have health insurance. The result of this "compromise" bill, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is that 2 million children will be shifted from the private insurance that they currently have to a government-run program.
Section 112 of the bill even allows childless adults to continue receiving SCHIP coverage through at least 2011. In fact, CBO also says that 780,000 adults will still be on the program in FY 2012.
H.R. 976 makes taxpayer-funded healthcare more accessible for illegal aliens
A provision in the bill weakens citizenship verification standards. According to the Social Security Administration, the "compromise" bill fails to prevent the following categories of persons from illegally getting healthcare benefits through Medicaid or SCHIP: aliens who are not naturalized citizens; illegal aliens fraudulently using another person's valid name and Social Security number, and; individuals who have illegally overstayed a valid work permit.
SMOKERS NEEDED: 22 million new smokers needed to pay for H.R. 976
The bill calls for a $0.61 federal tax increase on packs of cigarettes and taxes on cigars of up to $3 each to generate the billions needed to finance the SCHIP expansion in H.R. 976. The Heritage Foundation estimates that 22.4 million new smokers are needed to generate the revenue required to pay for the expansion voted on today. The cost of H.R. 976 does not figure in the additional medical costs to individuals and society for the 22 million new smokers.