[Don’t do diaries like this. – Moe Lane]
To great fanfare, the first law St. Obama signed was the SCHIP law. At the risk of sounding like a baby eating monster, like Dick Cheney, I have written editorials and letters to my elected officials opposing the 2009 reauthorization on principle. SCHIP started in 1997 and was designed to provide state-funded medical and health insurance for the children of the “working poor.” At that time, “working poor” was defined as those at about 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), or about $20,000 at the time for your typical family of four. Admittedly, if you are a family of four, chances are you lack health insurance for yourself, let alone your children. This program at least covered the children. In effect, was an acceptable safety net of sorts. But, the problems began not with the increases in providing health care, as those on the left will have you believe, but on the definition of both “children” and “the working poor.”
To qualify, the child no longer necessarily needs be under the age of 18. It covers “children” to age 21 if they are in college. Today, “working poor” is defined as 300% of FPL, or a family income of $66,150 for a family of four in 2009. If you are lucky enough to live in New York, they received a special waiver to make the definition for eligibility at 400% of FPL, or about $89,000. A very cogent argument could be made that those subsisting on a family income of $89,000 are not “working poor” whether you live in New York or Alabama or any other state.
There are other problems with the reauthorization. Previous authorizations required that legal immigrants wait five years before being eligible. That five-year waiting period is now waived which sounds like an invitation for illegal immigrants to feed at the public trough. In fact, proof of residency is no longer required. They eliminated provisions to reduce insurance “crowd out,” meaning that families are now steered towards SCHIP rather than employer-based or private health insurance plans. In addition, employers are now required to inform their employees of the availability of SCHIP, ostensibly to get their dependents into the program rather than the employer-based ones.
The legislation is paid for by increasing the federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes from its current 39 cents a pack by 62 cents to $1.01 a pack. That translates into a 158.9% tax increase! Using figures of the Centers for Disease Control, they estimate there are 43.4 million smokers in the United States smoking, on average 1.5 packs per day. Over a 1-year period, this would raise $6 billion per year to fund SCHIP expansion, and $30 billion over its 5-year authorization. Of course, this assumes that increasing the cost of a pack of cigarettes 62 cents will not cause people to cease their habit, or cut back. Just to make the $30 billion, the United States needs 43.4 million smokers who smoke 1.5 packs a day. So, if you are a smoker out there, you can’t quit, you can’t cut back, and you certainly can’t die because your money is needed. But, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of the program over the 5-year authorization period would cost $33 billion, so we are already $3 billion in a hole. But our craft politicians in Congress get around this by reverting to a 10-year accounting formula in the program’s fifth year in order to justify its real dollar cost under thier “pay-go” rules. That is, the program is “paid” for without actually seeing the actual revenues. Conservative estimates are that when all is said and done, this law will increase the federal deficit by $41.6 billion over ten years.
This is nothing more than a back door way to force socialized, single-payer health care on the American public. Realizing that most Americans don’t trust socialized medicine, they hide behind the sad eyes of children, or in the commercials, the smiling eyes of those children covering by SCHIP as they sit on the lap of the Governor. Many people may think, “So what? France has socialized medicine and they seem to like it.” Although they do, many French citizens also purchase private supplemental health insurance. Why? Because socialized medicine necessarily dictates the rationing of services. It is why the National Health Service in Great Britain is a disgrace. It is why some emergency room visits in Canada could be as long as 40 hours before seeing a doctor only to be admitted to a ward of six or eight beds. It is why it takes months to receive hip replacement surgery in these countries or to be put on a waiting list for dialysis. It is why you see Canadians, French and British citizens coming to the United States for necessary medical procedures, not Americans going to Canada, France or Britain. It is also why the Canadians, French and British are taxed to death to recieve these “benefits.” If you think payroll taxes in America are high, you haven’t seen anything yet if we truly socialize health care!
It isn’t just the smokers who will end up footing the bill in the end. No amount of creative accounting under convoluted, arcane “pay-go” rules that change the rules in midstream can mask the fact that this is yet another unfunded Federal mandate. It will add $41.6 billion to the Federal deficit assuming smokers remain at current levels and health care costs do not increase. Fat chance! But then, what is $46 billion after throwing $700 billion at the banking industry and $800 billion at an economic “stimulus” package and $30 billion at the auto industry and $75 billion at the housing crisis. That $46 billion translates into less than 3% of the total.
Besides the finances of this legislation, what I find most disgusting is the means by which Congress is selling this to the American public. Our respected leaders stand behind the faces of our children to further their socialist agenda. We are made to feel like monsters if we deny the children of those making $66,000 a year ($88,000 if you live in New York) state medical insurance. Those monsters are usually the fiscally responsible members of Congress who see beyond this facade. So how are the proponents of this program any different than the Hamas terrorist who hides rockets in a school with children in it? How are they different than the Hezbollah terrorist who shoots rockets and guns at Israeli soldiers from hospitals? Is hiding behind children- the most vulnerable citizens- to further a political agenda any different than terrorists in any two-bit backwater hiding amongst school children and hospitals? The Pelosi-Reid axis has a lot in common with terrorists.