Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

NYT Pretends It Doesn't Get CHIP Expansion

The Children's Health Insurance Program should have been contained by President Bush the first time he had a chance, but he tried magnanimity. Congress responded without so much as a thank you, and pushed the program far out into left field.

CHIP was questionable even as a restricted program, limited to providing government health insurance to children who lived in poverty. But the program gave states financial incentives to enroll more children, and instead of doing the hard work of finding children in poverty, the states did the brainless and effortless work of just expanding the income levels accepted into the program.

Now New York accepts families with incomes of 250 percent of poverty and the legislature wants to push it up to 400 percent ($82,600 a year). California is pushing to jump its income limit from 250 percent to 300. You get the point: The trend lines are pointing to the creation of a massive new federal entitlement.

And is entitlement ever the word. In a highly prejudiced piece against Bush's new policy of dialing the program back, the NYTimes sniffs:
Ann Clemency Kohler, deputy commissioner of human services in New Jersey, said: “We are horrified at the new federal policy. It will cause havoc with our program and could jeopardize coverage for thousands of children.”
Already, it doesn't occur to the big brains at the NYT or to Kohler, whose state accepts children from families with incomes of 350 percent of the poverty level into CHIP, that restricting family income levels does not restrict access to health insurance; it simply forces well-to-do families to stop sucking on the teat of a federal program that was never passed by Congress in its current state.

To end the expansion of the program, Bush announced new restrictions yesterday, taking advantage of the Congressional holiday. Here's the draconian new policy that had Kohler and her fellow socialized medicine advocates in a huff:

In the letter sent to state health officials about 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dennis G. Smith, the director of the federal Center for Medicaid and State Operations, set a high standard for states that want to raise eligibility for the child health program above 250 percent of the poverty level.

Before making such a change, Mr. Smith said, states must demonstrate that they have “enrolled at least 95 percent of children in the state below 200 percent of the federal poverty level” who are eligible for either Medicaid or the child health program.

A modest proposal at best, this Bush strategy is simply trying to stop the runaway greed of states that are more interested in federal incentives than covering the poor. But what gets the Left's goat is that the proposal would put the brakes on a program that has become a congressional end-run around a wary public towards a national health insurance program.

Congress passed a shell of a program so they can retort "we did no such thing" when accused of creating a national health insurance program, but they knew full well what the states would do with the incentives they built into CHIP. They're redefining "children" to higher ages and redefining "poverty" to higher incomes.

Faced with a modest Bush slow-down proposal, the NYT comes out swinging, calling the program "popular" in its lead, the use of a word that is anything but objective. The program may be popular around the editorial board room of the NYT, but that's hardly universal.

Before it gets around to defining the Bush proposal, NYT tells its readers:
  • Bush proposed the changes during a congressional recess
  • State official say it will cripple their health care programs
  • "As on other issues like immigration, the White House is taking action on its own to advance policies that were not embraced by Congress."
  • Four Republican govs (including that RINO, Schwarzenegger) like the program
  • The letter notifying states of the change in policy was mailed at 7:30 on Friday
That last point really got NYT's goat, because it meant Saturday, Sunday and Monday went by before it got to write its snarly little story.

But look, containing CHIP is vital. The Congressional budget office has said that the $30 billion budgeted for the program for 2008 through 2012 is not enough -- but that's only because the states have moved eligibility far above the poverty line.

The only thing Bush has done is attempted to apply some fiscal conservatism to a program that's rife with liberal exploitation. That's a good thing, but it takes wading through paragraphs of propaganda to get to that point in the NYT coverage.

And the blogosphere? Look at the links at memeorandum; they're a carnival of the outraged radicals, including BartBlog ("Why does Bush hate kids?"), Firedoglake ("Bush to kids: Forget about more public health care"), Crooks and Liars ("Compassionate conservatism for kids") and Feministe ("Bush A*&holery continues re: SCHIP").

Methinks the prez did something right.

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