Democrats Show Their Partisan Colors on SCHIP

Posted: Nov 01, 2007 8:45 PM
Democrats Show Their Partisan Colors on SCHIP

It has been stunning how quickly Democrat leaders have shown their true colors this Congress, pandering and playing politics to usurp ever more personal and economic freedom. The current debate over the future of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is a perfect example.

SCHIP was designed in a bipartisan effort a decade ago to provide health care assistance for low-income children in a household with income that exceeds Medicaid eligibility, but may not be enough to afford private insurance, roughly $42,000 per year today. The program insures millions of low-income children, and Republicans are supportive of continuing it according to the original intent.

Democrats in Congress, however, would not allow for common-sense reauthorization without inserting partisan politics. Democrats have proposed to take control of healthcare away from families and doctors and expand SCHIP to children in households making up to $62,000 per year, a level at which over two-thirds of Americans already have personal health care coverage. They would allow adults to be covered before children and refuse to ensure that illegal aliens do not have access to a taxpayer-funded program.

Speaker Pelosi has repeatedly insisted that this expansion put ten million children on government-run health care, regardless of how many children are forced to leave personal, private coverage for the bureaucratic, government program. It is estimated that under the Democrats’ plan, two million American children who already have personal care would be forced out of private insurance to receive taxpayer-funded, government-run health care.

With an issue as important as our nation’s health care, we must not allow politics to get in the way of responsible policy. This flawed proposal would lead to even greater dependence on the government for health care. As a nation, we should promote the goal of reducing the number of Americans reliant upon government assistance and allow for personal choices in healthcare decisions.

It is amazing how far Congress has come from the bipartisan welfare reform agreement of 1996. A great accomplishment of the Republican-controlled Congress, the reform provided incentives for people to stand up for themselves and lessen dependency on the federal government. Today, this SCHIP proposal offers incentives for Americans to leave the free market in favor of bureaucratic health care. Rather than encouraging personal and economic freedom, we are now encouraging government assistance. This reversal of policy is inexcusable.

Democrats have tried to sell this debate as cost versus compassion. While our budget is clearly out of control, this debate is about more than cost or compassion. It is about who controls medical decisions, some of the most important and personal decisions we make in our lives. As a physician, I know how dangerous government intrusion into health care decisions can be. When Washington has more control over health care, families and doctors have less. I can attest that this dangerous philosophy further erodes and threatens the vital doctor-patient relationship and quality care.

Conservatives should stand for free market solutions to our health care crisis. I have joined with colleagues in the House of Representatives and Senate to introduce an SCHIP solution that honors the intent of SCHIP – to help truly needy kids – while preserving and expanding the purchase of personal health care. The More Children, More Choices Act, H. R. 3888, fully funds SCHIP for the children it was intended to serve. To advance our shared goal of all Americans having health care coverage, the bill also provides tax credits for the purchase of personal coverage for children in households making up to $62,000.

This alternative would reach the same number of children as the Democrat plan, without removing children from personal health care and without any increased taxes! But Speaker Pelosi has no intention of negotiating with Republicans to find a truly bipartisan solution. This debate from the outset to the end will be about scoring political points – no matter who is exploited in the process. Sadly, it is all we have come to expect from Speaker Pelosi’s House of Politics.