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Media coverage of the Congressional debate about reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has focused on the program’s supposed beneficiaries: children from low-income families. Yet the debate about SCHIP has implications far beyond this one program. This debate is really about the future of America’s healthcare system.
The Democratic Congressional Majority has offered legislation that would further expand the federal government’s role in providing health insurance coverage to Americans. The federal role in the provision of healthcare has thus far been targeted to those (such as the poor and elderly) who would have the greatest challenges in our private system, in which most Americans obtain insurance through their employer. Democrats now seek to expand the pool of those who rely on government for health insurance to include children from middle-class families and some adults.
The President vetoed the initial legislation that was passed by Congress, and has called for a more modest increase in SCHIP funding. Yet Americans would be better served if policymakers used this opportunity to take a fresh look at our healthcare system and government’s role in it. Government should not be in the business of providing health insurance coverage. Instead government should embrace policies that bolster the private marketplace, make insurance more affordable, and encourage our healthcare system to become more responsive to individual needs.
SCHIP expansion is another step toward a government take-over of the healthcare system. Policymakers need to move America in the opposite direction by reducing government’s intrusion into the healthcare market and giving individuals greater ability to buy health insurance on their own.
SCHIP with Allison Kasic and Carrie Lukas