Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Heritage Foundation Alternative To SCHIP-- Government Funded Subsidies and Tax Credits Benefiting Insurance Companies

I have been on grandpa duty this weekend so I haven't been able to do much real blogging. My five year old granddaughter has gone home, so I have had a chance to catch up on SCHIP.

First, the just the facts part of this post. On July 24, 2007, H.R.3162 a bill
To amend titles XVIII, XIX, and XXI of the Social Security Act to extend and improve the children's health insurance program, to improve beneficiary protections under the Medicare, Medicaid, and the CHIP program, and for other purposes was introduced by John Dingle (D-MI) and referred to both the Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce Committees. has a great article on the efforts of the two committees to complete their work. Ways and Means stayed up late Thursday and finished the job. Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee were able to delay a vote. They will take it up again Monday.

On July 26, 2007, S.1893 An original bill to amend title XXI of the Social Security Act to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and for other purposes was introduced by Sen. Max Baccus, D-Mt. On the 27th it was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. That bill is scheduled for a cloture vote at 5:30 Monday afternoon.

The game is a foot. Since there is a September 30 deadline and a threatened veto, we can expect a lot of activity. You can stay abreast of the progress of both bills by following the bill number links to OpenCongress.

Now for something that has been bothering me. I just couldn't believe people like Nina Owcharenko and Robert E. Moffit, the Heritage Foundation's experts, are actually demanding adherence to their ideological beliefs even it means jeopardizing the health and safety of millions of American children. Upon further review, it is pretty clear they are actually insisting America sacrifice the health and safety of millions of children upon the alter of their ideology.

Because I have been posting a lot of video lately, I thought you might find this video from the Heritage Foundation interesting.

Notice what Nina doesn't tell us. Mostly she expresses disappointment that more kids than the original 28% are now covered by SCHIP and Medicaid -- up to 45% of all kids as of 2005 and possibly more tomorrow. She doesn't tell us how or why we reached 45% in 2005. It doesn't have anything to do with reauthorization. That hasn't happened yet. Forty five percent means pretty close to 1/2 of all kids are eligible. Any guesses why SCHIP and Medicaid cover 45% of all kids? First, Medicaid covers kids at or below the poverty line. That is a lot of kids, but that still leaves a lot of kids covered by SCHIP. Why has that number grown?

How about dependent coverage becoming too expensive for a lot of employers and their employees to afford? More and more employers have been dropping dependent coverage for more and more kids. The parents can't afford to pick up the ever more expensive dependent coverage. Middle class incomes have been flat for years. The states have been forced to step in to provide care.

You will notice the nice announcer and Nina, the free market priestess, suggest we need to examine private coverage alternatives. I wondered what those private coverage alternative might be. Lower health care costs? Caps on health insurance company CEO compensation? I was a twitter with anticipation.

Guess what, the Heritage Foundation "alternatives" come in two flavors. First, Premium Assistance. "Premium Assistance" is code for letting the government pay insurance premiums for poor kids. That is cool, for no particular reason other that a religious belief in the "free market," the Heritage Foundation wants Congress to create and fund a giant government program subsidizing insurance companies. Of course, the very fact that they propose a subsidy is proof that what they are suggesting isn't really a free market solution. It is a giant corporate welfare program.

What services would the insurance companies provide? The same wonderful services they are providing us now. If you have seen SiCKO you know what I mean.

The second "private coverage alternative" is proposed by Richard Moffit, the other Heritage Foundation priest assigned to SCHIP. I would link to his article, but it isn't really an article. It is a powerpoint. Great wisdom is imparted by powerpoint presentations these days but you might not have the right software to view it. If you want to view it google “Market-Based Initiatives for the Uninsured.”

If you haven't already guessed, the Heritage Foundation's Moffit proposes another government give away. Let me summarize it for you in about a sentence. The Heritage Foundation calls for Tax Credits to make premiums more affordable. The Blog Of Mass Destruction nails this one.

Wealthy folks can afford health care and therefore, don't need another tax shelter. If average Americans had enough money to save, they would have enough money to pay for health care. . . .

The logic behind Moffit's article goes like this……'tax dollars should be given directly to big insurance companies and already wealthy citizens instead of to the people who actually need the help'.
Of course, the current program is working, and working well. If it isn't broken why does the Heritage Foundation want to fix it? I guess it is religious. The Free Market god is a jealous god. It is pretty clear that like religious fanatics everywhere the "experts" at the Heritage Foundation are, to paraphrase one of Moffit's slides, unwilling to let practical reality trump ideology. I haven't researched it yet, but I wouldn't be shocked to learn that the Heritage Foundation is funded by insurance companies who stand to benefit from the giant corporate welfare subsidies it suggests in the name of "private" enterprise solutions.