SCHIP Reauthorization Flawed

Posted: Jan 14, 2009 2:11 PM
Any minute now, the House will be voting on H.R. 2, the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2009. While I support the goals of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the bill on the floor reauthorizes it in a grossly irresponsible manner. At a time when the American people need responsible government more than ever, I can not in good conscience support this bill’s passage.

SCHIP was intended to ensure that children who have no means to obtain health care can gain access to it. The program was intended to cover those kids first and foremost. H.R. 2 makes no such provisions.

According to the non-partisan CBO, this bill will entice roughly 2.4 million people to drop their private insurance coverage in lieu of the taxpayer funded program. This is a serious problem, as SCHIP funds will be diverted from those low-income families who need it the most and will have the effect of making private insurance even more unaffordable.
Even worse, the sustainability of the bill depends on a very shaky revenue source. In fact, it’s a source that Congress is doing its best to get rid of all together – cigarettes. The bill is paid for primarily through a $0.61 increase in the federal tobacco excise tax, from $0.39 to $1.00.  With less people smoking as a result of high taxes and health ramifications, how does the government plan to sustain funding for the program? Only Congress could produce such a flawed line of reasoning.
What we have in front of us today is a bill that was given very little opportunity for debate with absolutely no opportunity for amendment. If nothing else, it's another fine example of the Democrats' abysmal view of bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle.