Should Most of America’s Kids Be on the Dole?

See where you stand regarding the current debate on health insurance coverage for children, and then see who agrees with you:

1) Is it appropriate to require taxpayers to provide health insurance for more than 45 percent of the children in the United States?

2) Is it a good idea to force the taxpayers to buy health insurance for children who already have it?

3) Should the poor pay for health insurance for the middle class?

If you said “yes” to all three, above, you’ll love the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal to expand SCHIP, the federal government’s State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and agree with Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who chided President Bush for threatening to veto it.

Grassley and Hatch went to far as to claim Bush’s veto threat is “disappointing, even a little unbelievable,” because President Bush had yet to read the fine print on a plan to put the middle class on the dole. Philosophical opposition to the very notion of expanding the welfare state apparently is beyond the pale in some quarters of the Republican Senate these days.

Brian Golden, who works for the Administration, had an excellent op-ed in the Boston Herald Saturday explaining what appears to be the Administration’s perspective. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:

In Washington, Congress is poised to debate renewal of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This program… was created to provide federal funding for health insurance for children in low-income families…

…There are calls on Capitol Hill for a massive expansion of SCHIP that would provide publicly subsidized insurance not just to low-income children but to higher-income children and adults, most of whom already have private insurance.

There are those in Congress who are seeking the end of private insurance and have acknowledged that expanding SCHIP is motivated by a desire for a national government-run health care program. Toward this end, there is a proposal to cover children in families of four earning up to $82,600 annually at a cost of an additional $50 billion. Without a clear demonstration of necessity or how we will finance it, this would make 71 percent of American children eligible for public assistance.

SCHIP has already begun to stray from its original target – the 37 percent of children who live in families of four earning $41,300 or less. Due to expansion of SCHIP that has already occurred, 45 percent of American children are covered through SCHIP or Medicaid. Additional expansion of SCHIP poses a real risk. Many people would give up private insurance as they move to government health care. In fact, a study estimated that as many as half the children enrolled in SCHIP had dropped private coverage. This increases the burden on taxpayers…

The debate about SCHIP expansion is more than a debate over SCHIP expansion — its a debate about the our nation’s philosophy of government.

Where do you stand?

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.