Editorials Address SCHIP Reauthorization
State Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization
Several newspapers recently featured editorials, opinion pieces anda letter to the editor addressing SCHIP reauthorization and newenrollment guidelines. Summaries appear below.
- Akron Beacon Journal: Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau lastweek "should be push enough for Congress to get on with the unfinishedbusiness of authorizing an expansion of" SCHIP, according to a Beacon Journaleditorial. In passing SCHIP bills that would expand the program, theHouse and Senate "recognize the need to take care of the children whilethe nation remains deadlocked on the question of how best to ensure anaffordable health care system" (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/3).
- Hartford Courant:The Bush administration's new guidelines for SCHIP enrollment "tightenincome eligibility levels to an unreasonable point" when the "goalshould be to reduce the number of uninsured children," the Courantwrites in an editorial. It continues, "It makes no sense to penalizestates like Connecticut that have been at the forefront of creativeways to make affordable health care available to working families" (Hartford Courant, 9/2).
- Long Island Newsday:The Census data, which found that 8.7 million children in 2006 wereuninsured, "has framed in sharp relief the debate in Washington overwhether to expand" SCHIP, according to a Newsdayeditorial. President Bush, who has threatened to veto SCHIPlegislation, "comes off looking downright churlish," and "Congress hasto find a way to block his ideological attack on its practical answerfor uninsured kids," the editorial states (Long Island Newsday, 9/4).
- New York Post:The Bush administration "is trying to put the brakes on a health-cartelgravy train that states are increasingly exploiting to achieve theirown agendas," the New York Post writes in aneditorial. The editorial continues, "The fact is that the stateinitiatives are barely disguised plans to inch toward universalgovernment-run health coverage -- 'universal health care,' as theadvocates have it -- via the back door." It concludes, "Theadministration is right to put the brakes on this train before it goescompletely off the tracks" (New York Post, 9/2).
- New York Times:The Bush administration's new guidelines for SCHIP that make itdifficult to expand eligibility beyond 250% of the federal povertylevel seem "too stringent" because a "compelling case can be made forraising the limit to at least 300%, and there are plausible reasons insome states for going higher," a New York Times editorialstates. "The sad fact is that health care costs and insurance premiumshave soared far above levels that existed when SCHIP was created. Whatused to be a problem for low-income families has become a problem forthe middle class as well," the New York Times concludes, adding, SCHIP "needs to reflect that" (New York Times, 9/2).
- Orlando Sentinel:"America's fractured health care system desperately needs attentionand, so far, Congress and ... Bush have been content to play partisanpolitics while more and more families join the ranks of the uninsured,"according to a Sentinel editorial. Congress and Bush"need to end the election-year games and compromise to save" SCHIP --"one of the few government successes in a litany of failures," theeditorial continues. The editorial asks, "If Congress and Mr. Bushcan't find common ground for America's children, what hope is there forthe other problems in the health care system?" (Orlando Sentinel, 9/3).
- Philadelphia Inquirer:The increasing number of uninsured children "is a clear call to action"that Bush might "be able to sidestep, but certainly not his successor,"according to an Inquirer editorial. "There is no excusewhatsoever for Bush administration policies designed to thwart anexpansion of children's health insurance," the editorial continues,adding that "states need to keep pushing the envelope on expandingaccess to affordable health care," which "means doing more to reach outto families that might be eligible for Medicaid" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/3).
- Washington Times:SCHIP "is already being stretched beyond its intended parameters," andDemocrats "would like to extend that boundary even further," a Washington Times editorial states. According to the Washington Times,"While Democrats might be eager to facilitate" a shift from private togovernment-sponsored health insurance "as a precursor to introducing amore sweeping transition to government-run health care in 2008," theU.S. taxpayer "certainly isn't." The editorial concludes, "Bush hasvowed to veto the costly expansions passed by both the House and theSenate, and he has good reason to do so" (Washington Times, 9/4).
- Wichita Eagle:Critics "should recognize that SCHIP is not a big-government behemothso much as a proven 50-state partnership with the federal governmentthat has comparatively low overhead and a market-friendly network ofprivate health-care providers," an Eagle editorial states. The editorial continues, "States want to expand it because it works." According to the Eagle,"Some Republicans have valid concerns about an SCHIP expansion,especially how to pay for it, how to keep it from chipping away atemployer-based coverage and how to keep states from adding adults totheir plans." The editorial adds that these concerns "all ... can beaddressed as lawmakers reconcile differing House and Senate bills thismonth" (Wichita Eagle, 9/4).
Opinion Pieces, Letter to the Editor
- Keith Dveirin, Arizona Daily Star:The provision of the new SCHIP enrollment guidelines that mandatechildren be uninsured for at least one year before being eligible forSCHIP "should be met with outrage by all," Dveirin, a pediatrician andpresident of the Arizona chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, writes in a Daily Staropinion piece. Dveirin continues, "It is a draconian measure(conveniently announced while Congress was not in session), and itbenefits no one except the health insurance industry." Theadministration's new rules "are short on compassion" and "place themultibillion-dollar profits of the health insurance industry ahead ofthe health of our children. This is a shame we should not accept,"Dveirin writes (Dveirin, Arizona Daily Star, 9/3).
- Andrew Grossman and Robert Moffit, McClatchy/Minneapolis Star Tribune:It is "clear that expanding SCHIP isn't so much about helping poor,uninsured children get the coverage they need" but "an effort to chipaway at private health coverage and move more and more people into agovernment-controlled health program," Grossman, a research editor atthe Heritage Foundation, and Moffit, director of the foundation's Center for Health Policy Studies, write in a McClatchy/Star Tribuneopinion piece. Grossman and Moffit write that SCHIP "expansionadvocates ... consistently voted down amendments designed to keep theprogram's focus on serving uninsured poor kids." They conclude, "Theneedy children, one fears, are just heart-rending props, meant todistract attention from the fact that Congress is moving ever closer tocreating a government monopoly over health care" (Grossman/Moffit,McClatchy/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/4).
- Karen Ignagni, Washington Post: An Aug. 21 editorialthat "apparently agrees" with cuts to Medicare Advantage plans found inthe House SCHIP bill "distorts the facts," Ignagni, president and CEOof America's Health Insurance Plans, writes in a Postletter to the editor. Ignagni continues, "The push to cutreimbursements ignores the value not only of the added benefits butalso of bringing coverage choices to more areas, as Congress mandatedin 2000." She concludes, "There's no justification for pitting childrenagainst seniors. The Senate would fund SCHIP by raising the tobacco tax-- a fair and balanced approach" (Ignagni, Washington Post, 9/2).
- Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), Washington Times:Democrats "have proven to be one-trick ponies" on taxes, who "ratherthan pursuing real spending reform" have "singled-out tax increases asa 'silver bullet' solution to any and every problem facing our nation,"House Minority Leader Boehner writes in a Times opinionpiece. Boehner asks: Did Democrats "attempt to forge a bipartisanconsensus as Republicans did 10 years ago, when we established" SCHIP?"No," Boehner writes, adding that instead, Democrats "merely voted tolevy an unprecedented new tax on every American who has a privatehealth insurance plan and an incredible 115% to 2,200% tax increase ontobacco" (Boehner, Washington Times, 9/4).
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