The Wall Street Journal is upset, though I am glad. These are good moves:
Democratic Stealth Care – WSJ.com
Initially designed for children of working-poor families, this new Super-Schip will be double in size, and even kids whose parents make $65,000 a year will be eligible. The program will also now cover pregnant women and automatically enroll their new arrivals. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 2.4 million individuals will drop their private coverage for the public program.
Still, it’s the “stimulus” that has proven the real gift horse — a behemoth that has allowed Democrats to speed up the takeover of health care under cover of an economic crisis. They initially claimed, for instance, the “stimulus” would provide Medicaid money to states struggling to pay existing bills. What in fact it does is dramatically expand the number of Americans who qualify for Medicaid.
Under “stimulus,” Medicaid is now on offer not to just poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011. The federal government is graciously footing the whole bill. The legislation also forbids states to apply income tests in most cases.
House Democrat Henry Waxman was so thrilled by this blowout, it was left to Republicans to remind him that the very banking millionaires he dragged to the Hill last year for a grilling would now qualify for government aid. His response? A GOP proposal to limit subsidies to Americans with incomes under $1 million was accepted during markup, but had disappeared by final passage. In this new health-care nirvana, even the rich are welcome. CBO estimates? An additional 1.2 million on the federal Medicaid dime in 2009.
The “stimulus” also hijacks Cobra, a program that lets the unemployed retain access to their former company health benefits — usually for about 18 months. The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And here’s the kicker: Whereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. CBO estimates? Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009.
If Barack Obama can use the financial crisis to bring about a better national health care system, I will be very impressed. I wish him well!