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August 22, 2007

The SCHIP Empire Strikes Back

Just when we thought it was safe---just when the arguments in favor of extending a SCHIP program explicitly intended for poor children not eligible for Medicaid---were on the verge of self-inflicted collapse, the medical schocialism blob strikes back.

First, we have Ms Judith Stein, Esq., (a nice touch, that) in the letters section of the Wall Street Journal (August 17): "The... bill passed by the House of Represnetatives protects Medicare by reducing outlandish overpayments to private [Medicare Advange] plans that threaten the future of the entire Medicare program."

So there we have it: It is the monopoly position of the Medicare program that matters, rather than the individualized needs of actual patients. And because of "windfall subsidies, the number of private Medicare plans is increasing across the country... [but] that does notmean that there are more doctors in rural areas {or] more hospitals for low-income people..."

And that argument reveals so very much: Patients are idiots. They will sign up for (subsidized) Medicare Advantage plans even though no increase in access to actual medical care will result. And it is not the $75 trillion or so of unfunded liability that threatens Medicare; no indeed, it's the subsidies for Medicare Advantage! How can I say this gently? Only a lawyer could make an argument so utterly dumb.

And then there is Karen Lashman, Policy VP of the Children's Defense Fund, who argues (same day, same paper, same letters section) that "nearly nine million children are suffering without health insurance."

Oh, please. No one---no one---is denied needed health care in the U.S. because of a lack of financial resources; that is the fundamental meaning of the 1986 COBRA requiring emergency rooms to take all comers. It may not be very convenient. It may not be very efficient. But it is the highest-quality health care in the history of man, and the argument that "nine million children" (a phony number) "are suffering" is an appeal to the basest of emotional obfuscation.

That apparently is what the Children's Defense fund does best. Second on the list is the presentation of arguments in favor of subsidizing the middle class at the expense of poor seniors, a topic that we have visited here before. Is there an honest argument left anywhere in the Beltway?

Posted by Benjamin Zycher at August 22, 2007 05:36 PM


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