Strong Rhetoric for Socialized Medicine

Governor Rendell’s Weekly Letter along with a Press Release demands legislators pass of his “Cover All Kids” proposal. His rhetoric is powerful (read Lowman Henry’s admission that he is a heartless ogre) , but are misleading and fail to address any concerns over the universal health care plan.

  • Their inaction is keeping 133,000 children from getting health insurance.” Of the 133,000 the administration estimates are uninsured, 90,000 are already eligible for the current CHIP program, but choose not to participate in it. The governor’s own news release even states that the new program would only serve an estimated 15,000 children in the first year.
  • Those uninsured families “Can’t afford to purchase insurance for their children.” The Governor’s Plan calls for expanding current government programs to all children regardless of income. Families of 4 with incomes from $40,000 to $70,000 would get taxpayer-subsidized CHIP, and families above that threshold would pay the established premium for government health coverage. It is far from clear that these families “cannot afford” insurance or even can pay out-of-pocket medical expenses.
  • The money Pennsylvania will have to pay to operate Cover All Kids in its first year is a small price.” While the 2006-07 budget for Cover All Kids is “only” $4.4 million, that is estimated to jump to $53 million by 2010-11, if (a) we only serve half the aforementioned 133,000 uninsured, (b) the federal government kicks in $90 million to support the program, and (c) parent premiums of $38 million cover the costs. More usage, less federal support, and excess costs would drive the cost to taxpayers even higher. Hence “Cover All Kids” is a short term solution which leads to long-term commitments and problems.

The Governor fails to recognize any of the concerns we raised – crowding out private insurers, encouraging employers and families to drop their plans, and increasing costs of this plan. “Cover All Kids” fails to address the basic problems in rising health care costs, and would only serve to exacerbate them. That legislative leaders “made a commitment” is no justification for a bad policy.