Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Boehner: SCHIP Proposal Expands Government-Run Health Care, Includes Hidden Earmarks & Aids lllegal Immigrants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) today made clear his strong opposition to legislation to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), saying the program should focus on the needs of low-income children, not adults or upper-income children who already have private sector health care.

In classic “Washington-style math,” the bill could classify 1,516 Ohio as rich and poor at the same time. According to an analysis by the Heritage Foundation, 1,516 families could pay the Alternative Minimum Tax – intended to prevent the very rich from skipping out on paying taxes – and qualify at the same time for SCHIP – intended to provide healthcare to children of low-income families.

Boehner issued the following statement regarding the SCHIP proposal:

“Republicans support renewing SCHIP to help states provide health care to low-income children, which is exactly why we’re opposing this disappointing bill today. Using this critical program to provide government benefits to adults, illegal immigrants, and upper-income families who can afford private health insurance is bad policy. Federal funds targeted for low-income children should benefit low-income children. Period.

“Republicans created this program in 1997 for exactly this purpose – as a means to help children in low-income families – not as a first step towards a massive expansion of government-run health care for all Americans. The children this program is intended to serve deserve better, as do American taxpayers. Unfortunately, this bill also includes hidden earmarks and opens the door for illegal immigrants to enjoy taxpayer-funded health benefits.

“Throughout this process, some lawmakers have sought to ensure a presidential veto rather than avoid it, putting politics first instead of focusing on the needs of low-income children. Having ignored repeated calls from House Republicans to work together on commonsense solutions for America ’s neediest children, the majority has now produced a fatally-flawed bill that deserves to be vetoed. With only five days until the program’s September 30th expiration date, I’m hopeful we can put politics aside and focus on the 6.6 million low-income children who need quality health insurance. Republicans remain committed to renewing SCHIP and providing low-income children with the health care they need.”

There are anywhere from 236,000 to 245,000 children in Ohio who currently have no health coverage. But nearly 165,000 of those childrens’ parents have not signed them up for the program, despite the benefits it would provide. What’s more, studies and surveys repeatedly have shown that opening up eligibility to government-funded programs like SCHIP leads to a decline in those who participate in private insurance despite preferring private health insurance.

NOTE: Republicans have repeatedly called for House Democrats to work together on bipartisan solutions that focus on helping low-income children obtain quality health care benefits. As recently as September 19th, Leader Boehner and Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) requesting that she back an 18-month extension of the SCHIP program sponsored by Energy & Commerce Ranking Republican Joe Barton (R-TX). The extension would give both Republicans and Democrats ample time to reauthorize the program in a more responsible fashion and in the same bipartisan spirit that marked the creation of the program in 1997.

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