I wrote recently about Bush and his critique of the State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (S-CHIP). A successful program which bridges the gap for children without health care insurance and has the support of fair-minded organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics. SCHIPs also runs more efficiently than Medicare programs which allow private pay components, under the mantle of choice without the efficiencies of a single payer plan. Public funds are paying private insurance company HMOs and PPOs without bringing to bear economies of scale. Expanded SCHIP funding would also come from Tobacco taxes, another best means to discourage a negative behavior — smoking. It is truly devious of Republicans to argue against a well-designed publicly-funded children’s health care plan, largely because it is successful and efficient, as they concurrently promote Medicare payouts to private health providers while railing against the cost and waste of Medicare programs.
So this past Saturday, Aug 4, 2007 — Congressman Shadegg guest editorialized in the AZ Republic, explaining his vote against the recently passed expansion to SCHIPs. It was the usual diatribe against socialized medicine, demonizing single pay health care insurance as the dredges of entitlement and the last resort of lowlife poor. I couldn’t bear it, so I submitted my 200 words or less to a “letters to the editor” online. 200 words won’t rebut Shadegg adequately nor provide sufficient background material, so it helps if you read the Congressman first. The following was my reply:

Congressman Shadegg argues against reforming the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, (“Dems SCHIP just won’t sail“), since it would expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), by cutting payments to private insurers operating within the Medicare program.

According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare plans which allow private plans (like HMOs and PPOs) cost Medicare 12% more per person, on average, than traditional Medicare program. Medicare Advantage is one such plan.

In a 2007 analysis by the CBO, researchers determined that “for every 100 children who gain coverage as a result of SCHIP, there is a corresponding reduction in private coverage of between 25 and 50 children.” CBO speculates that state programs offer better benefits and lower cost than private alternatives. In 2007, researchers from BYU and ASU found that children who drop out of SCHIP cost states more money because they shift from routine care to more frequent emergency care.

Fear of future adult health care coverage only credits SCHIP in augmenting affordable health care coverage. Congressman Shadegg has reasons against expanding public health care coverage, but minimizing insurance costs for American children surely must not be one.

It is unfair that the Congressman gets 710 words to smear an example of Government health care insurance done right, especially since his criticism targets children. Shadegg is vulnerable this election cycle, his Democratic challenger, Bob Lord is fund-raising as much or more than Shadegg (which is unfortunately one measure of success). With some work and the memory of partisan efforts against programs like SCHIPS, perhaps we can turn the rascal (and others like him) out.

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