Not an (s)chip off the ole safety net block

And please spare the “stimulus” crock

Originally published by Mike gamecock DeVine as Legal Editor for The Minority Report

It looks as if the feared “fundamental change” as “stimulus” has begun, even before Inauguration Day:

House Votes to Expand Child Health Insurance [SCHIP]

“In this moment of crisis, ensuring that every child in America has access to affordable health care is not just good economic policy, but a moral obligation we hold as parents and citizens,” Obama said.

The House bill would provide health insurance to an additional 4.1 million children and parents, including legal immigrant children and pregnant women, who currently must wait five years before becoming eligible for the program.

I favor a federal safety net for the truly needy, as did Ronald Reagan (pictured). We have one. If we want to fundamentally change the net into a hammock, we should only do so after We the People debate the matter via our elected representatives in Congress.

I also favor a quickly passed stimulus bill to address the ongoing economic crisis. The “moment of crisis” the President-Elect refers to was in no way caused by any “parents” nor families earning as much as $80K per year not getting subsidized health care. It certainly wasn’t affected at all by the fundamental rule for immigrants that they ensure they are not burdens on the public for five years.

There may very well be an argument for expanding SCHIP to cover low income children not currently covered. I suspect there is a better argument for radical change that lower health care costs so that so many families wouldn’t need subsidized health care.

But even on that score, and despite Obama’s campaign promise to support measures that lower health care costs, this House passed bill actually restricts competition:

Buried in the bill is another gift, this one to a powerful health lobby–the hospital industry. The bill is ostensibly about health coverage for children, but there’s a section that bans physicians from owning or investing in hospitals.

Not only is it not related to expanding health care for low income children, nor stimulus, but rather is anathema to both.

The simple fact of the matter is that the only way we will ever lower health care costs is when a Doctor sees a patient pull up in the parking lot and asks himself how much that person can afford to pay, before setting the price for care, rather than reading a schedule of costs prepared by government bureaucrats.

Competition from smaller physician-owned specialty hospitals are a step in that direction. But hundreds of democrats in the House and 40 republicans couldn’t abide that cost cutting in the private sector. And given that the bill is no stimulus and contains provisions including non-low income children and even adults, what is the real motive behind the new law? Could it be the expansion of government power for its own sake and as a vehicle for buying votes?

I am open to a debate on the issue of how large a safety net we need for children, even during an economic crisis such as we find ourselves in just now. But the “debate” didn’t begin until 5:39 am yesterday and ended before Midnight. For that reason alone the bill must be opposed.

There is another reason to oppose the bill. It includes a cigarette tax increase of 61 cents to $1 per pack, which will fall primarily on lower income families , for a program that funds health care for adults, non-low income kids and abrogates a compact with legal immigrants:

Smokers paying an additional 61 cents per pack of cigarettes to finance a SCHIP expansion under the Democrat proposal would cost a working class family with two adult smokers hundreds of dollars per year in additional federal tobacco taxes alone.

President-elect Barack Obama promised that folks making less than $250,000 per year would not see their taxes go up. This legislation most assuredly breaks that promise.

Oh yeah, the bill also violates one of the few I had hoped he would keep, and reminds me of the middle-class tax cut that never came in 1993.

Seems Obama is a chip off an ole Democrat block.

Hopefully Senate Republicans will show themselves to be the true champions of the truly needy and working families by opposing the subsiding of increased illegal immigration, adults, and non-needy children before we are stimulated by such fundamental change.

Mike DeVine’s Charlotte Observer, Examiner.com and Minority Report columns

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson