The SCHIP Federal healthcare program debate is based on quite serious and substantive issues. The GOP doesn't want this Federal welfare program to be expanded to include families that can easily afford their own health insurance (families earning $83,000 a year for instance) and Democrats want to expand this program to include far more families than the legislation ever covered previously. But, if one were to read Reuters coverage of this Congressional fight, one would come away imagining that the only issue is that the Dems want to "back kids' health care" and Republicans don't. What does their headline say to you? "Democrats dare Republicans to back kids' health." It certainly sets the debate on the Democrat's terms, doesn't it? Those mean 'ol Republicans hate the kids, it screams! The GOP wants kids to get sick and have no doctor's care it seems to say. And as you read Reuters' coverage, you come away not really knowing what the Republicans have against the bill, but you sure get it that they want to keep poor kids from getting health care coverage. And you sure get that those loving Dems are all about helping poor kids.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Backers of a bill expanding a popular children's health care program on Tuesday turned up the heat on House Republicans to break ranks with President George W. Bush and overturn his veto.
How is this the "popular children's health care program," anyway? Popular with whom? And, calling it "popular" further places the GOP on the rhetorically wrong side of the issue for readers of Reuters. Naturally, Reuters falls all over itself to utilize another whiney rock star to flog those eeeevil Republicans, too.
Part of that effort included a rally featuring singer Paul Simon, who is co-founder of The Children's Health Fund, a nonprofit group that helps medically underserved children. Simon called Bush's veto "heartless" and urge members who voted against the legislation to "find compassion" and change their votes. Democrats have to persuade around 12 Republicans who previously voted "no" to change their minds in order to override the veto.
So what is the program?
The State Children's Health Insurance Program aims to help low-income families who cannot afford to buy private health insurance but who earn too much to qualify for the Medicaid health care program for the poor.
OK, fine. The GOP supports this bill in theory, it should be reported... but it isn't. Somehow Reuters forgets to mention that little fact in their effort to keep the GOP on the "wrong" side of the issue. Still, Reuters fails to really clarify why Bush vetoed the bill and why more and more budget conscious Republicans won't vote to over turn that veto. All we get from Reuters is:
Bush and his allies in Congress say they support renewing the popular program, but not expanding to the extent of the bill, which was negotiated by a group of Senate Republicans and House and Senate Democrats. That bill would increase the current $25 billion five year funding for the bill to $60 billion and extend health care coverage to about 10 million children.
The issue is merely presented by Reuters as a miserly point on behalf of the GOP and president Bush. It simply looks like the Republicans are just cheapskates here because the real reason that they are against the new expansion of SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) is not revealed in this report. Though Reuters does give us this somewhat incomplete reasoning: "Republican opponents argue they want to be sure the program is focused on poor children and does not become a stepping stone for government-run health care." Reuters does not fully explain what that means, however, leaving the GOP seeming mean spirited in their stance against this bill. But here is the real reason that Republicans are against this bill. The current bill would allow the possible expansion of coverage to families that make up to three times the rate of poverty or more (about $61,950 a year for a family of four) and if passed might allow the state of New York to expand that even further to families that make $82,600. And, as we see so often with creeping expansion of welfare programs, this New York exception would soon enough be bestowed on every other state, Republicans fear. This new bill would make this program go from one that covers poor kids to one that covers middle class, even "rich" kids and that makes this program just another unfunded mandate that will interfere with the insurance market place. Further, expanding this program would have the unintended consequence of giving employers more reason to drop health care coverage for their employees, too. After all, why go to all the expense and annoyance of administering health care insurance for your employees if the government is going to give it away for free? This would be an obvious step toward government run health care and this is another reason the GOP opposes this expansion. In other words, Reuters simply doesn't explain that the Democrat Party wants to wildly expand this welfare program to budget busting proportions so that it can cover families that can easily afford their own health care without government assistance. Nor does it explain that the GOP wants to prevent the program from being expanded to meddling, cradle-to-the-grave proportions. But, then, if Reuters explained the argument properly, the GOP wouldn't look so mean and we all know that Reuters couldn't do that. Now COULD they?