alien & sedition.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
  GOP vs. Health Care for Kids

As often happens when a government does something particularly loathesome, the Bush administration waited until Friday evening, in the middle of a congressional recess, to announce its drastic new restrictions on SCHIP:
The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for New York, California and others to extend coverage to children in middle-income families....

In interviews, they said the changes were intended to return the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children and to make sure the program did not become a substitute for private health coverage.

After learning of the new policy, some state officials said yesterday that it could cripple their efforts to cover more children and would impose standards that could not be met.

“We are horrified at the new federal policy,” said Ann Clemency Kohler, deputy commissioner of human services in New Jersey. “It will cause havoc with our program and could jeopardize coverage for thousands of children.”

The new policy, coming as Bush promises to veto any bill expanding SCHIP, makes it nearly impossible for states to to cover children in families whose income is over 200% of the poverty level. Keep in mind that the poverty level for a family of four is an absurdly low $20,650. Trying to feed four kids on an income of $41,300? Good luck with the health insurance -- you're on you're own. The Bush administration is trying to prevent states from offering health care to kids whose families need the help. Dennis Smith, Bush's director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations, said that the point of the new rules was to prevent states from "sustituting for private coverage." This is purely ideologically driven -- we're talking about denying kids health care for the sheer bloody-minded sake of satisfying the conservative think tanks. It's arrogant, cruel -- and perfectly in line with the opinions of every single Republican candidate for president.

As Paul Waldman has pointed out, the only GOP candidate to support expanding SCHIP was Tommy Thompson, now out of the race. Rudy Giuliani said it would make kids "wards of the state." Duncan Hunter called it -- what else -- "socialized medicine." As Waldman points out, the Republicans' real problem with SCHIP is that it is a widely popular government program that works well. They hate it because they are ideologically against the notion of government-supported health care. They want to take health coverage away from kids because they hate anything that shows that government can work, when it's not in the hands of incompetent Republicans.

They hate SCHIP because it shows America just how wrong and heartless the conservatives really are.

UPDATE: Gene Sperling (h/t DemFromCT) systematically dismantles the Bush administration's stated reasons for opposing the SCHIP expansion, and sums up:

Before, "compassionate conservatism" may have seemed like a political bumper sticker. Now it seems like the punch line of a sad joke, at the expense of millions of impoverished children.

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