“Leave no government-run health care program and handout to the insurance cartel behind.” That is the guiding principle of the unibrow party in Washington.
After fully capitulating to the Democrats on the debt ceiling, everything in the budget bill, an insidiously bloated disaster-relief bill attached to the package, and the promise for amnesty and insurance bailouts, the GOP is quietly giving Democrats everything they want on Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorization.
The question nobody is asking in Washington, or even cares to ask, is: Why should we even have CHIP at this point, now that Obamacare isn’t going anywhere?
In 1997, rather than dealing with the root cause of price inflation in health care and health insurance — namely, government handouts to the insurance cartel — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, created yet another government-run program funneled through the insurance cartel.
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), now simply called CHIP, was designed as a shared federal-state insurance program for children and pregnant women in families whose incomes are too high to be eligible for Medicaid.
Like every other entitlement program, SCHIP started off modestly but rapidly mushroomed into a permanent dependency program. There are now 8.9 million individuals enrolled at a cost of $15 billion, with the federal government picking up three-quarters of the tab.
Much of the expansion occurred during the Pelosi reign of terror in 2009 when the funding, eligibility, and benefit requirements of the program were dramatically increased. As a result, 12 states don’t contribute a penny to the program. I guess that’s why they cropped off the “S” from SCHIP.
By now, some of you might be wondering why we still have the program. We destroyed the entire health care system in order to massively expand Medicaid, mandated everyone purchase insurance, we subsidize everyone else’s insurance up through 400 percent of the poverty rate and leave those above that level in the lurch. Why do we need CHIP after enactment of Obamacare?
Even the drafters of Obamacare essentially envisioned the end of CHIP, which is why they had funding for the program expire in 2015. Between the massive expansion of eligibility for Medicaid and the dependency-driven subsidies under Obamacare, there was no longer a legitimate rationale for the existence of CHIP – even from a liberal perspective. Liberals cannot argue that Obamacare was the end-all for universal coverage and then demand reauthorization of CHIP.
Yet, rather than pocket the one ancillary benefit of Obamacare and let a smaller program expire simply by doing nothing, Republicans agreed in 2015 to a two-year reauthorization of the program as part of a massive $400 billion Medicaid doc fix bill, which created nightmare red tape on doctors (the MACRA payment system). Not only did the Republicans reauthorize CHIP, they expanded funding for the program by as much as $6 billion a year. (Conservative Review included that vote in our Liberty Score.)
This was done with GOP control of the House and Senate. Yet, two years later, with control of all branches of government, rather than letting a government program expire simply by doing nothing, Republicans have once again agreed to reauthorize the program for another five years!
There wasn’t even a battle over the program. Any GOP official committed to their party’s platform would make it clear that CHIP is unnecessary when coupled with Obamacare, and would demand that Democrats pick one or the other. The country could then use the $15 billion in savings for missile defense or border security. But don’t hold your breath.
Some in the “Big Government conservative intelligentsia” are enamored with the CHIP program and will claim that it is less costly and more efficient than the Obamacare exchanges. But if that’s the case, Republicans should hold back on reauthorization of CHIP until they secure concessions from Democrats on Obamacare.
Instead, they are preemptively admitting that CHIP reauthorization is must-pass legislation and are agreeing to fully reauthorize it without any reforms to Obamacare, Medicaid, or broader supply-side health care reforms.
While this all is not making waves in the media, it is perhaps the superlative example of the failed cycle of government.
They create a new program because the first one failed … but then never abolish the original one. But again, this is not about helping the poor; this is about using dependency to create more votes and lining the pockets of the insurance cartel that administers the programs. Thus, government can only add programs but not rescind or even replace them.
This is why our politicians subscribe to the rules of the ancient Persian government described in the book of Esther (9:8), “For a writ that is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be rescinded.”
Look no further than the top lobbyists for 2017, almost all of them are part of the health care cartel:
This is why the voters are no longer presented with a choice. Because the special interests are in lockstep with endless growth of government, the options we are presented operate exclusively within the confines of the Democrat premise on any given issue. And that premise is “Leave no wasteful government program behind.”
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.