NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The new SCHIP legislation is nothing less than a vehicle to advance “socialized medicine” by stealth. The program’s purpose, when it was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress in 1997, was to assist in subsidizing health care for children in families whose incomes made them ineligible for Medicaid but who couldn’t afford private health insurance.
The public insurance program, which was crafted to provide insurance coverage for children of working-poor families, may soon grow dramatically, nearly tripling in size by 2013.
Under the SCHIP legislation, the program has experienced the kind of expansion-in-purpose only possible in Washington, D.C. Under the new legislation, families with incomes of up to $84,400 for a family of four will be eligible for government-subsidized health care for their children. Consequently, people with incomes higher than most American families will now have children eligible for health insurance subsidies originally intended for low-income families.
The new SCHIP legislation also will make it much easier for some states to increase eligibility for SCHIP-subsidized health care even for families who earn more than $100,000 a year in income. It is estimated that somewhere between a third and a half of the children signed up under the SCHIP expansion will be children who will have been taken off the private insurance rolls and put on government-subsidized health insurance.
A January 2007 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests SCHIP is “crowding out” private insurance, as their research revealed that for every 10 children added to the public rolls, six had been covered by private insurance. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Congressional Budget Office estimates 2.4 million individuals will forgo private insurance coverage and opt in to the public program (SCHIP).
Wouldn’t the nation’s children be better served by targeting the truly needy for expanded health assistance rather than encouraging some in the middle class to move their children off private insurance and onto government programs?
The only rational explanation for deliberately designing programs to take children out of private health insurance and put them on government-subsidized insurance when they come from families making sometimes from $84,400 to over $100,000 a year is to provide a foundation for an increasing government takeover of the health insurance system by using children as a “Trojan Horse” to introduce government takeover of healthcare, i.e., “socialized medicine.” That may well be what the Congress wants to do, but they shouldn’t think that we are so foolish as to not recognize what they are doing.
Efforts in Congress to fast-track passage of an economic “stimulus” package coupled with expansion of the children’s health-care program (SCHIP) seem to confirm suspicions that a government monopoly on health care is the congressional majority’s goal. Taken together, these two pieces of legislation would give liberals a sizable down payment on nationalizing health care, according to the The Heritage Foundation.
The Heritage Foundation notes that while private spending on health care is declining as a percentage of total funds spent, the federal government’s share is rising.
Kimberley A. Strassel, in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, called the bill that was ostensibly crafted to revive our economy “a behemoth that has allowed Democrats to speed up the takeover of health care under cover of an economic crisis.”
Liberals are pursuing a new strategy, Strassel wrote, “to stealthily and incrementally expand government control.” According to The New York Times, the economic recovery legislation dedicates $127 billion in the near term to health care.
The House version of the bill (and the Senate version as it stands today) includes funding for a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research that many believe will be the vehicle that oversees the not-so-subtle introduction of nationalized health care. The council, which will be made up of 15 individuals appointed by the president from the health-care fields, is labeled as “Healthcare Research and Quality” in the Senate version of the bill.
Also tucked into the stimulus bill adopted by the House is $600 million for the training of nurses and primary care physicians and dentists to provide care in communities that lack sufficient health-care outlets. While this sounds innocuous enough, a statement from the office of David Obey (D.–Wis.), chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, references this line item as: “Training Primary Care Providers: $600 million to address shortages and prepare our country for universal healthcare by training primary healthcare providers including doctors, dentists, and nurses as well as helping pay medical school expenses for students who agree to practice in underserved communities through the National Health Service Corps.”
We can be thankful that Rep. Obey is at least candid enough to share that a great deal of what is in the bill is a down payment on “universal healthcare.”
Americans cannot say they were not warned about their government’s intentions when it comes to creating a government-run health-care monopoly.
Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.