The SCHIP politics are perfect for people with different ideals to keep political pundits happy – do you favor smaller government and oppose helping children, or do you help the helpless by taking money from everyone else? President Bush did what he said he would do and vetoed the bill. Congress failed to override the veto. So now it’s back to the drawing board without anyone having changed positions. I’m all for smaller government and that was an ambitious expansion, but the numbers didn’t add up even if I were less conservative.
. . . the vetoed bill that would have more than doubled the funding from $25 billion for the next five years to $60 billion and expanded coverage from 6.6 million children to 10 million.
So for 2.4 times the price we can ensure 1.5 times the number of children – that sounds like we’ve just introduced a lot of waste into the system.
Bush and many House Republicans . . . want the program narrowly tailored only for those making twice the poverty level or less, though they would not remove anyone making more who is already enrolled. The president says that leaves about 500,000 children who are eligible but not yet enrolled.
“I want to provide enough money to make sure those 500,000 do get covered,” Bush said Wednesday. “That ought to be the focus of our efforts.”
At first, Bush only wanted to add $5 billion in spending, but government budget analysts say that is not enough to cover the rising health care costs of those already in the state programs.
Somehow I just can’t escape the conclusion that the mentality “if it’s getting too expensive just let the government pay for you” can only lead to financial ruin for the country. Have we forgotten that funneling money through the government does not increase the amount of money available. Even if government programs cost nothing it would be a zero sum equation. If costs are rising then we need to find a way to reduce them, not just play hot-potato with the bill.
Apparently there is an alternative solution being proposed in the House that covers those under 200% of the federal poverty level and then gives tax credits for those up to 300% of the poverty level. This would give coverage to most of those who would have been covered in the original bill, but through different mechanisms – the question on this new bill is – what’s it going to cost. Even if I prefer tax credits over federal programs I don’t want to pay $65 billion to cover 10 million children with tax credits any more than I want to pay $60 billion to expand the existing government program.