The Schip Revelation

Wall Street Journal on the absurdity of the debate on SCHIP Expansion:

Schip was supposed to help children from low-income families …

Schip was created as a program that needs to be reauthorized every decade; the House plan makes it a permanent entitlement. Schip was supposed to help the uninsured; the House plan is consciously designed to “crowd out” private coverage and replace it with federal welfare. The bill goes so far as to offer increasing “bonus payments” to states as they enroll more people in their Schip programs. To grease the way, the bill re-labels “children” as anyone under 25, and “low income” as up to 400% above the poverty level, or $82,600 for a family of four.

To finance its Schip largesse, the House would eviscerate Medicare Advantage, an innovative 2003 program that allows seniors to choose among various private health plans. …

Their hostility to Medicare Advantage is because it allows for competition in the private sector, and is an experiment that could serve as a model for reforming Medicare in the future. Democrats are trying to repeat what the Clinton Administration did to Medicare+Choice in the late 1990s, starving that private experiment of funds until seniors fled.

The good news here is that the House legislation is so egregious that it barely passed 225-204, and President Bush has promised to veto a major expansion of the Schip program. The Senate has also passed an expansion, albeit somewhat more modest and without looting Medicare Advantage. Democrats think they have a political winner in the guise of helping “children,” but the House bill shows that their higher priority is expanding government.