Politics & Policy

For the Children

I won't be bullied on SCHIP.

Right now if you listen to a popular country radio station in south-central Michigan, you can hear advertisements spreading lies about my position on S-CHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program).

The station selection for this ad seems appropriate for House Democrats, whose blatant twisting of the truth is fit for a remake of Garth Brooks’s classic song “Friends in Low Places.”

House Democrats continue to mischaracterize Republican support of the S-CHIP program, and would like you to believe that Republicans do not care about poor, needy kids.

Democrats are using this smear campaign against Republicans to gain support for their tax-and-spend economic policies. Sadly, they are taking the focus away from where this debate should be: meeting the needs of children of low-income families.

I support renewing S-CHIP to provide health care to children in low-income families, but I also believe we need to ensure that the children’s health program is available for children who need it, and not for adults, people who enter the country illegally, or families who already have private insurance.

The Democratic legislation takes a program originally meant for children of low-income families and expands it to cover some families earning up to $83,000 and illegal immigrants, while moving millions of children from private health insurance to government programs.

In 2006, 118,501 children and 101,919 adults in Michigan received health care from the S-CHIP program. Incredibly, this means that 46 percent of Michigan’s funding allotment intended to give poor children health insurance actually went to cover adults.

The Wall Street Journal further described this problem in its August 9 editorial: “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… $82,600 for a family of four.”

It is unfathomable to think that Democrats want to expand a program that currently does not meet the full objective of covering poor children, and expand it to try to insure single adults. I’m not sure what part of “children’s health care” liberals in Congress do not understand.

And to pay for their huge expansion, House Democrats need 22 million new smokers to begin lighting up over the next ten years. Over two million kids will move from private health care to Washington-based, government run health care under the House leadership’s plan.

This bill and its budgetary gimmicks are certainly the wrong approach. Rather than pursuing a bill that will harm many Americans and socialize our health-care system, this Congress should reform SCHIP and go back to its original intent of helping needy kids. Let’s look for ways to give families tax credits and encourage private health-care insurance.

Our first responsibility is to make health care more affordable and accessible to all Americans, and this includes preventing children’s health funds from going to people who enter the country illegally, families earning $83,000, or those who already have private insurance.

Tim Walberg is a congressman from Michigan’s Seventh District.

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