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Conservatives &Fiscal Policy Richard Falknor on 03 Feb 2009 09:20 am

A Rush to Government Medicine: SCHIP and the “Stimulus”

UPDATE FEBRUARY 4! See the lamentable House vote tally here this afternoon. Frank Kratovil fails the independence test by again supporting a leap toward all-government medicine.  Is he a Blue Dog (Pup), or a Blue Poodle?  Frank Wolf is unswerving in his love for governmentalism as he too repeated his vote for Big Brother Medicine. (Mr. Wolf also voted on October 18, 2007 here to override then-president Bush’s veto here of SCHIP overreach.)

A Rush to Government Medicine: SCHIP and the “Stimulus”

As most conservative readers know, the Obama ‘stimulus’ is primarily about extending the reach of government, and likely permanently.

And expanding government medicine is a sure-fire path to restricting personal control of one’s care as well as to the rationing of medicine and to inhibiting the growth of new medical drugs and technologies.

Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute spells it out here – –

“Congressional leaders are arguing over whether they’ll get a comprehensive health reform bill passed this year or next. But, in fact, major health reform is speeding through Congress in two bills that are on the fast track to enactment — SCHIP and the economic stimulus bill.

Expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program [SCHIP] to children in families well into middle-income ranges passed the Senate yesterday and will likely be signed into law by President Obama early next week. In some states, children in families earning $100,000 or more would be eligible for taxpayer-supported insurance, as would adults already receiving it, clearly changing the mission of the program.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) asked, “Is the real intent of this legislation to replace the private health care system with a government-run health care system?” The response from Senate Democratic whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) was that he didn’t want to ‘trap people into private health insurance.’ Heaven forbid!

Nine Senate Republicans broke ranks and voted with Democrats in favor of the SCHIP expansion; 40 Republicans crossed over and joined nearly all Democrats in passing the nearly-identical House version of the bill last week.” (Underscoring Forum‘s.)

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma offered here an important alternative to fast-approaching government-run medicine – –

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – 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. (Underscoring Forum‘s.)

Readers will likely share our dismay when they see the Senate Republican votes here against Dr. Coburn’s amendment.

The new, just-passed-by-both-houses-of-Congress SCHIP bill here could also lead to undermining parental controls.

As the Heritage Foundation explains here (“Top 10 Changes for Congress to Consider”), SCHIP needs some modifications, including – –

“Change #4: Respect Parental Authority, Religious Liberty, and the Integrity of the Family Unit. SCHIP legislation should not become an open-ended grant of power for bureaucracy to define and limit parental authority and resolve sensitive issues that should be left to families. Pro-family groups may find that a change in Administrations mean a change in how provisions of SCHIP may be interpreted. Congress should modify these provisions to prohibit unwanted or unintended government intrusions into parental authority and family autonomy.”(Underscoring Forum‘s.)

Or, as the Catholic Health Association wrote here last January 15 – –

“The SCHIP program should not undermine America’s families, their beliefs, and the health of children. Most states use SCHIP funds to pay for abortion, contraception, and sterilization which, under current law and Medicaid regulations, can be offered to children without the knowledge or consent of parents. While SCHIP funds should not be used for these purposes because they are unethical and have an adverse impact on children’s physical, emotional and spiritual health, at a minimum,state and federal regulations should permit parents to have access to SCHIP funds to enable them to choose health insurance coverage that does not conflict with their values and that does not separate funding mechanisms from parental oversight.” (Underscoring Forum‘s.)

The SCHIP expansion also eases taxpayer-funded care for immigrants, both legal and not.

According to cnsnews.com here

“The bill also allows for immigrants, both legal and illegal, to access SCHIP funds, although illegal immigrants may only do so for 90 days.
The bill removes previous requirements, currently required under Medicaid, that mandate new enrollees provide photo identification and documentation proving citizenship, such as a green card or passport, when applying for SCHIP.
The new language strips this proposal and says that states can accept Social Security numbers as proof of citizenship, and that they must provide health coverage while those numbers are being verified. If a number cannot be verified, states must drop coverage after 90 days.
However, a Social Security number is the only proof of citizenship required under SCHIP and new enrollees are no longer required to offer proof of identification when enrolling.  This provision would allow someone who has stolen a Social Security number to receive CHIP funds, so long as the theft is not discovered by the Social Security Administration – the agency responsible for tracking and issuing Social Security numbers.” (Underscoring Forum‘s.)

and here

 “The Republican plan would have imposed lower income limits on SCHIP enrollees, and it would have banned the use of federal money to cover children of newly arrived legal immigrants.

Current law requires a five-year waiting period before legal immigrants become eligible for coverage under Medicaid and SCHIP”
. . . . .
The House now will vote on the Senate bill and then send it to President Obama for his signature.” (Underscoring Forum‘s.)

How many constituents of these House Republican and Blue Dog members who supported the vast SCHIP expansion last month know what their representatives have wrought – – by helping speed the arrival of all-government medicine?  Indeed, we wonder if these members themselves grasp the likely result – not far down the road – of what they are putting in place today.

But they can now get the short answers right here in Kimberley Strassel’s WSJ piece “Democratic Stealth Care”

Here and here respectively are the House and Senate votes on the ballooning of SCHIP.

Let’s look at the House —

In Maryland, faithful Roscoe Bartlett held fast against big government.

Blue Dog from Georgia Jim Marshall and Alabama Blue Pup (a freshman Blue Dog) Bobby Bright refused to drink the kool-aid of big-government medicine, and voted no.

But Maryland’s Blue Pup Frank Kratovil went right along with the Pelosi-Hoyer leadership.

As might have been expected, Virginia’s Frank Wolf voted for the new SCHIP monster — but all other Virginia Republican House members voted no. (Sooner or later, even the Virginia Republican Party cheerleaders will have to stop pretending that there are no important policy differences between
our good Mr. Wolf, and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor and the other conservative House Republican leaders.)

But tomorrow, Wednesday morning, errant House Republicans and timid Blue Dog Democrats will have a chance to redeem their fiscal honor when the House votes on the Senate (and likely final) version of the new, overreaching SCHIP.  

Maryland and Virginia readers may want to give these two Franks (Kratovil and Wolf) some firm guidance on their next SCHIP vote tomorrow.

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