SCHIP is another entitlement program

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dear Editor:

Regarding last week's letter to the editor regarding the SCHIP program being promoted by Leslie Reed from the Health Policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health and how this new "safety-net" entitlement program will benefit over 127,000 children who supposedly lack health care. I disagree.

And here is why. While I do not discount that there are children out there who lack health care coverage I submit that there already are programs in place to take care of these children, and while SCHIP may have its heart in the right place, the requirements for who it will cover will be so broad based that children as old as 21 will be covered by this program.

On top of that it will cover those children whose parents make only -no kidding, folks - 400 percent above the poverty line. Which means if Mom and Dad make $82,600 a year then our tax dollars could go to cover their kids' health insurance. What's more is many of these well-off parents are pulling their kids off their own private insurance plans so they can get "free" insurance for their kids.

Since when is it the government's responsibility (i.e. us and our tax dollars) to pay for health insurance on other people's kids when the parents are perfectly capable of paying for it themselves?

But wait, it gets better or worse depending on who you are. This coverage now covers more adults than children. According to "Investor's Business Daily," last year almost 700,000 adults were enrolled in this program designed to help children of the working poor. Adults with SCHIP coverage outnumbered children in three states, 14 states cover adults and six of them cover childless adults.

Also, while the new SCHIP bill specifically states there will be no federal funding for illegal aliens, the classic loophole says states have the option to check for proper documentation, meaning they don't have to if they want to turn a blind eye to illegals taking advantage of another taxpayer program.

Today 89 percent of all families who make 300-400 percent above the poverty line already have private insurance. Think how many families are above this rate that could enter their kids up to the age of 21 into the SCHIP program.

The sole intent of SCHIP was to cover "uninsured children" left out in the cold without health care. But according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), "about 60 percent of the children who were eligible for SCHIP were covered by private insurance in the year before the program was enacted. Because the program appears to offer "free" health care families opted out of their already successful private plans.

As it is now, the funds for the SCHIP program have been fixed at $5 billion but Democrats are asking for a $50 billion dollar expansion over the next five years, which they claim will be funded by cigarette taxes. The Heritage Foundation did the numbers on this and found that by 2017 this country would need 22.4 million new smokers to keep SCHIP funded.

When the cigarette taxes for this don't materialize as more people quit or don't start smoking where do the additional funds for this program need to come from? Us, folks. And the really bad news is once this new SCHIP program is approved, unlike the 1997 SCHIP program, Congress never has to "renew" or review SCHIP - it will be there for eternity. Our country can not afford this.

The SCHIP program is complicated and muddied with bureaucratic language that is dressed in noble sounding code words like "for the children" but it is a bankrupt bound monster that will crush this country and we simply do not need yet another entitlement program for people who neither need it nor deserve it.

The hard work of finding out what a new government program will mean to this country is not easy. Throwing out neat phrases like it's "for the children" is meant to make you feel guilty if you don't support it but knowing what the real black and white meaning of what its impact will have on everyone sometimes means having the guts to say NO.


Donna Gracy

Cassville, Missouri