Experts Praise SCHIP Veto

Published December 1, 2007

Paul J. Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, says it’s a welcome change:

“I’d take the big-picture view that it is great news that President Bush has decided, even if belatedly, to embrace fiscal conservatism. As far as what happens next, specifically with regard to health care, I think Bush needs to be proactive on pushing market-based reforms for the rest of his presidency.

“I’m not convinced he’ll do that, but I think the Democrats feel that they can just ‘run out the clock’ on the Bush administration’s opposition to SCHIP expansion and other plans for socialized medicine under the assumption that they’ll have Democratic majorities in Congress and will win the White House in 2008. Viewed from this perspective, it makes Bush’s first six years in office all the more a missed opportunity for needed reforms.”

Deroy Murdock, senior fellow of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, reacting to an October 4 statement from the National Committee for an Effective Congress urging Congress to override the veto:

“‘SCHIP is intended to help children in low-income families that are slightly above the poverty line.’ Slightly? Since when is THREE times the poverty line ‘slightly’ above it? This is like saying the Washington Monument is slightly above the Mall.”

John R. Graham, director of health care studies for the Pacific Research Institute, on states’ fiscal irresponsibility:

“The veto is good news for America. Until now, the federal government has not taken action against states which have enrolled middle-class children in SCHIP instead of lower-income kids. States such as New York and New Jersey have made health insurance artificially expensive through excessive government regulation, and it has become too expensive for many middle-class families.

“Those states have a responsibility to their citizens to remove this burden and make health insurance affordable. Instead, they demand the federal government hand over tax dollars that they are rightly afraid to [levy] themselves. President Bush is right to finally take action against their irresponsibility. Since the veto held, many states will become more creative in removing the barriers to affordable health insurance that they have erected. They will not be able to jump through the ‘escape hatch’ of a federal bailout.”

Greg Scandlen, president of Consumers for Health Care Choices, on the need for moral fortitude:

“It took a great deal of courage for the president to veto this bill, and it required courage from free-market supporters in Congress to sustain it.

“The facts are that the majority of children covered by SCHIP were already covered by their parents’ private coverage; about one-third of uninsured children have already been on SCHIP or Medicaid and left, even though they are still eligible, because the parents didn’t find it worthwhile; even the kids who have been successfully covered could have gotten coverage for far less cost in the private market; and SCHIP divorces children from their parents when it comes to insurance coverage, so the family has to learn how to use several different policies for different family members.

“The greatest concentration of uninsured people are immigrants who have not become citizens–45 percent of them are uninsured, but they are not eligible for public programs until they have been legally in the country for five years.”

Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Cato Institute, on Democrats using this bill as a wedge issue in next year’s elections:

“It would be far better to convert SCHIP funds into vouchers that families could use to choose their own coverage. The president should have vetoed not just the Democrats’ SCHIP expansion but also the continuing resolution that is keeping SCHIP alive.”