May 6 2013

Latest ObamaCare Victim: Head Start Program

Charlotte Hays

In a supreme irony, the Head Start program, much beloved by President Obama, may be the latest ObamaCare casualty. The Daily Caller reports:

Head Start teachers and administrators told The Daily Caller that their most pressing concern is not budget impacts from sequestration but changes coming from President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

In 2014, the impact of 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “is probably going to be a 9 percent [cost] increase, and significantly more the next year,” said Nancy Nordyk, director of the Head Start program in southern Oregon.

Rising healthcare costs will likely force Oregon to reduce some Head Start workers’ hours so they’re not eligible for the medical program, said Nordyk, who spoke to TheDC during a national Head Start conference held just outside D.C. in Maryland.

In one conference session on the pending healthcare bill, “some of the [managers for regional Head Start] organizations [said] ‘We don’t know what to do,’” said Elizabeth Steinberg, the CEO of Community Action Partnership in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

The worried managers come from “all over the country,” said Steinberg, whose Head Start program has 387 children.

Just for the record: the “worried managers” were meeting at an expensive Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.

 It’s interesting that the president used Head Start as part of his sequester scare strategy, when it is really ObamaCare that is likely to harm the program. But I am not shedding crocodile tears for Head Start.

Head Start was born in the so-called “war on poverty,” and there is absolutely no evidence that it has any lasting and beneficial impact on those it supposedly helps. Indeed, IWF’s Carrie Lukas reported for Forbes magazine on the “National Head Start Impact Study,” which found that Head Start failed to improve students cognitive abilities and that Head Start kids were actually less well-prepared than other first graders in math.

While cuts to Head Start are devoutly to be wished, this latest development is nevertheless a cautionary tale. Congressional Democrats rushed and arm-twisted to pass the Affordable Care Act without reading it or understanding what they were doing. This is one of the things they were doing: harming their own favorite program.

Unfortunately, they are trying to do the same with immigration reform. The Heritage Foundation says that the Gang of 8 plan would cost $6.3 trillion. But does anybody care? As with the Affordable Care Act, conservatives are calling for piecemeal reform. But Democrats and some Republicans are in a hurry to chalk up more “historic” achievements.

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