The future of SCHIP may well come down to money. It always does. All this brought me back to my coverage of SCHIP in 2007 when the program was up for reauthorization, and Republicans and their allies in conservative think tanks tried to kill it. Congress reauthorized the program, only to have President Bush veto it twice. When President Obama finally signed the bill in January, much of the media missed the point: the bill leaves out about half of the kids who have no health insurance.
Those wanting to dive into this story should review the rhetoric of the 2007 debate, for it tells much about the reasons why the program may eventually be repealed. Writing for the Health Affairs blog, Grace-Marie Turner, who heads the conservative Galen Institute, argued that if families with higher incomes were allowed into the program, at least one child would lose private insurance for every two new kids enrolled in SCHIP. That would crowd out private coverage.
She also argued for keeping a cap on the SCHIP funding to avoid creating another entitlement program. “Entitlement programs pose a sizeable future threat to taxpayers,” Turner wrote. There you have it—SCHIP tangled up in all the old ideological arguments about preserving the market for private insurers that already stand to gain handsomely from health reform.