The Campaign Spot

Health Insurance for Poor Families, with Their Six-Figure Incomes

The Department of Health and Human Services announced today in the Federal Register its calculation of the poverty level for 2009. In 49 states and the District of Columbia, for a family of one, HHS puts the poverty level at an income of $10,830 or below.

2 persons: $14,570

3 persons: $18,310

4 persons: $22,050

5 persons: $25,790

For Alaska, it is a few thousand dollars more at each level. The rest of the chart can be found here.

I mention this because the House of Representatives has passed  legislation allowing states to offer government-funded health insurance to children who live in families that have incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. The Senate is expected to pass this legislation, and President Obama is expected to sign it.

The original purpose of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program was uncontroversial: provide health care to children of the working poor, families that make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford insurance on their own.

But S-CHIP has now become a backdoor manner of establishing government-provided health insurance, covering incomes well beyond most definitions of “the working poor.”

This means that a family of four with an annual income of $88,200 can receive S-CHIP benefits. A family of five can have a six-figure household income–$103,160–and still qualify for this program originally designed to help the poor. (And higher in Alaska.)

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