An analyst at a conservative think tank in Washington says congressional supporters of the state children’s health insurance (SCHIP) bill — approved by Congress but vetoed by President Bush earlier this week — are disingenuous to claim their proposed $35 billion expansion of the program is not a first step toward federalized healthcare. In fact, says Carrie Lukas, the proposed program is a “slow-drift” toward such a system.

Although opponents of the bill deny that the SCHIP expansion is socialized medicine, reports that in 1993, according to an internal White House staff memo, then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s staff saw federal coverage of children as a “precursor” to universal coverage.

Carrie Lukas, vice president for policy and economics at the Independent Women’s Forum, says the SCHIP debate is about more than the healthcare needs of low-income children. She says it also is about the future of the country’s healthcare system.

“The more that government takes this over, the more difficult it is for private industry to compete,” she asserts. “Why would people want to pay for their own insurance if government’s going to provide it for them? So this really is the beginning of a slow drift, or even a not-so-slow drift, towards complete socialized medicine — a one-payer system.”

And such a system, Lukas contends, is obviously something that “a lot of the Democrats” favor.

“While the Democrats are making it sound as though only a heartless person would oppose expanding a program that is supposed to help low-income families with children, what they’re proposing is really [a move] to push our healthcare system towards greater government control,” the IWF spokeswoman explains. “This would be moving over a million children who are currently covered by private insurance onto the federal rolls.”

Lukas says the government should make it easier for families to afford private healthcare instead of having a “massive expansion” of the government provision of healthcare.