Pirate SCHIP

Federal looters are preparing another round of pillage. They want to convert the State Children’s Health Insurance Program into an entitlement. This SCHIP should be abandoned while the rats are climbing aboard.

Amy Ridenour reports that The American Legislative Exchange Council and The Heritage Foundation jointly sponsored a conference last week to discuss this incremental move toward socialized health care.

…Our Ryan Balis provides a timely report on a conference sponsored by two conservative organizations about SCHIP — and why spending an additional $35 billion on it funded by a tax on dispropropriately [sic] lower-income people is a bad idea

One clever aspect of this plot is that it will significantly damage private insurance affordability. This will help fuel future propaganda about how our health care system can only be “saved” through ever greater government control.

If SCHIP reauthorized includes expanded coverage, [U.S. Rep. Marsha] Blackburn [R-TN] warned, private health insurance rates would increase. “As more things are made free, somebody else is paying the cost: it is the taxpayer and it those that are buying private health insurance,” she said. Expanding SCHIP “walks us closer to socialized medicine.”

Maryland Del. Addie Eckardt talked about her state’s response to SCHIP. Echoing Rep. Blackburn’s warning about costs, Del. Eckardt said, “If we continue to expand the children’s health program… you take more of the people that are eligible… in the private market and, thus, we increase the cost.”

The Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberly Strassel noted on June 29th, in Socialized Medicine Showdown, that:

…The new plot is to enact national health care one citizen at a time, slowly expanding the reach of existing government programs until they encompass the population.

Strassel points out that we will have to depend on the GOP recognizing its own interests to stop it. Nervous yet?

…if Republicans know what’s good for them–[they will promote] … a broad new GOP health-care vision, a free-market reform to replace today’s faltering employer-based system. The party has circled this for years, throwing out free-market ideas here and there, yet never proved unified (or brave) enough to get behind one bold, top-to-bottom reform. Democrats are now forcing their hand.

…Schip is the first step. The program, with its $25 billion budget, was originally designed to provide insurance to only the poorest children. Democrats want to throw an additional $60 billion at it, expanding Schip’s rolls by three million. They would expand eligibility so much that as many as half joining would drop private insurance to do so. Even adults could sign up.

Next: Even as Democrats work to expand Schip to cover older Americans, they’d expand Medicare to cover younger Americans. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell is said to have recently floated the idea of allowing the struggling Big Three auto makers to enroll workers in Medicare at the age of 55, or 10 years early. Consider this a pilot program for dropping Medicare’s age limit overall and instantly subjecting tens of millions more Baby Boomers to the government’s tender care.

Democrats will meanwhile argue the only way to pay for Schip and other expanded programs is to gut Medicare Advantage and similar free-market reforms. See how clever? Swallow up ever more Americans into federal programs, banish any last vestiges of popular market plans, and voilà! It is Hillarycare! Only nobody ever had to use the dreaded word!

[Opposing the SCHIP entitlement expansion is a group] led by health-care innovators Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint in the Senate, and Paul Ryan and Jim McCrery in the House… [Their] goal: a system that eliminates today’s corporate subsidy and gives the money to individuals, cutting costs and reducing the number of uninsured. The political message: Dems want to put a few million more under government control for $60 billion, Republicans want to put 300 million in charge of their own care at zero extra cost.

The good news is that after 10 years of tinkering, Republicans have laid the foundation for bigger reform, from Health Savings Accounts to tort liability reform.

…The challenge then will be to get the rest of the party to overcome its nervelessness on health care. The ringleaders of today’s effort admit they may have to do a Sen. Phil Gramm, who in 1993 led by example, singlehandedly tearing into HillaryCare, proving his position a winner with voters, and pulling his colleagues in line.

They’ll need to roll up their sleeves. Most Republicans don’t understand health care, so don’t want to talk about it; many grimace at voting down money for “kids”; quite a few face tough elections and would rather not jump into an unknown debate. Reformers also aren’t getting cover from should-be allies. Insurers and lobby groups like PHRMA–who ought to understand that a bigger Schip is a threat to their long-term business–are instead focused on short-term profits and PR images. Republican governors–who’d be huge beneficiaries of an individualized market–seem to only care about keeping federal dollars flowing into state coffers.

Good luck to Coburn, DeMint, Ryan and Jim McCrery. Given the fecklessness of their fellow Republicans, they’ll need it.