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Kids’ health program expanded

November 5, 2007

by Roz Kohls

Democrats have been setting up a false dichotomy about SCHIP, the health care program for poor children, for several weeks now. SCHIP is State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The Democrats are trying to portray the issue as if there are only two choices, health care for poor kids, or no health care for poor kids.

No one, including Republicans, wants to refuse health care to low-income kids. There already are 30,100 Minnesota children enrolled in the program and that’s good.

President Bush probably will veto SCHIP’s reauthorization act, however, because there are a lot of problems with the reauthorization. First, it expanded the program to include adults up to the age of 25. Why would anyone believe that a 24-year-old is a child?

Second, it expanded the family income eligibility up to about $80,000 a year. That’s above the median income for US residents, so how can those families be considered “poor?” Most states cover children with incomes at twice the federal poverty level, $41,300 for a family of four.

Third, it included coverage for illegal immigrants. If there isn’t enough funding for children of US citizens, why would there be enough for illegal immigrants also? It just doesn’t make sense.

Democrats are claiming they strengthened the language in a revised version Oct. 25 that addresses the issues of adults, high-income families, and illegal immigrants receiving SCHIP. The language changes are slight, though. If Democrats keep middle class families and adults out of the program, it will defeat the purpose of their expansion in the first place. What Democrats really want is to get their collective foot in the door of universal health care, or as it’s most commonly called, HillaryCare.

The biggest problem with SCHIP is the unstable funding. The money to pay for it comes from a tax on tobacco. If smokers quit smoking, the way the government wants them to, the money for the program disappears.

The president had recommended spending an additional $5 billion for the program over the next five years. The bill before Congress calls for a $35 billion increase.

If we spend that much on adults and middle class families, the Democrats will be right, although unintentionally. There won’t be enough SCHIP left for poor kids.