State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) helps states to insure low-income children that cannot get Medicaid and cannot afford private insurance. The program was created by the Republican-led Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Under Title XXI of the Social Security Act, individual states are alloted federal funds each year. This act was allocated $20 billion for 10 years. An extension to the program was signed into law by President Bush and continues the program until 2009.
In 2007, newly elected majority Democrats made SCHIP expansion a priority. Two times Congress submitted expansion proposals, twice President Bush gave a veto. Democrats insisted the program move a step towards socialized medicine by increasing those children covered if their families made 350% over the poverty level. The result would be that people with private insurance would move into the government paid for SCHIP. Democrats demonized Republicans for not being for the children. Democrats went as far as publicly bringing out 12 year old Graeme Frost as a spokesperson for the program's expansion. Freerepublic.com argued that Graeme's family didn't qualify for the program because he attends private school, lives in a neighborhood with $475,000 homes and the father purchased commercial property for $160,000.
The SCHIP expansion has been funded by a 158% tax increase on tobacco products, a regressive tax directed primarily at those least likely to be able to pay it. Over half of all smokers are low income, and one of four are officially classified as poor. The tax increase to support the SCHIP program was signed into law by President Barack Obama twelve days after taking office.
- Medicaid, federal-state payments for health care for the poor
- Medicare, federal payments for health care for people over 65 and the disabled
- http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1670210,00.html , TIME The Swift-Boating of Graeme Frost, October 10, 2007
- Obama's Poor Tax, Brad Schiller, Wall Street Journal Online, April 1, 2009.