In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 1, 2007 / 17 Menachem-Av, 5767

Dem health plan a burden on poor

By Robert Robb

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program illustrates the difficulty of having a sensible policy discussion in the context of American politics, as currently practiced.

According to congressional Democrats, opposition to their reauthorization proposals means support for allowing low-income children to go without health care.

According to Republicans, the Democrats are proposing socialized medicine on the installment plan.

A sensible policy discussion begins with what the debate isn't about: health insurance coverage for low-income children.

SCHIP was intended to provide federal subsidies to insure children up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or a family income of about $40,000 a year. The program expires this year and needs to be reauthorized.

No one opposes reauthorization for its intended purpose. The Bush administration has proposed reauthorization for this targeted population with an extra $5 billion in funding over the next five years, over the current base of $25 billion.

The problem is that SCHIP has expanded beyond its original scope, as so often happens with federal programs. In the early years, many states couldn't use all of their SCHIP money, so the feds permitted excess funds to be used by other states to extend coverage to children beyond 200 percent of the poverty level and even adults.

In Arizona, the SCHIP plan is called "KidsCare". A Government Accountability Office study found, however, that 56 percent of the people enrolled in “KidsCare” were actually adults.

Fifteen states now provide SCHIP coverage for children above 200 percent of the federal poverty level and 14 states cover adults.

Congressional Democrats propose not only to fund these existing expanded programs, but provide enough funding for other states to substantially expand eligibility as well. In all, Democrats are proposing to more than double SCHIP funding, allowing universal coverage up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, as Gov. Napolitano has proposed for Arizona.

That would provide coverage up to a family income of about $60,000 a year. Since the median family income in the United States is just over $46,000, this reaches well into the middle class.

Here, a confusion surfaces between the issues of universal access and federal subsidies. There are a lot of middle-class American families that have difficulty obtaining health insurance coverage. Every state, however, can provide universal access by allowing buy-ins to its Medicaid program.

The question SCHIP reauthorization poses is whether the federal government should be subsidizing the health insurance of middle-class families. There doesn't seem to be any justification for it, particularly funded the way congressional Democrats are proposing.

To pay for the SCHIP expansion, Democrats are proposing to raise tobacco taxes by up to 61 cents a pack.

Tobacco taxes are highly regressive. So, basically, Democrats are proposing to tax the poor to pay for the health care of the middle class.

Tobacco taxes are also highly uncertain. Health care advocates like them because the evidence is that they do reduce consumption. However, states and the federal government have already loaded up various programs, many involving health care and children, on their backs. The odds are very strong that tobacco taxes will not produce the revenues being obligated.

Now, Republicans are making these points. But they also are employing a scare tactic of their own, that Democratic proposals are basically socialized medicine on the installment plan.

However, government programs to provide subsidized access to what is still a private system of health care providers are very distinct from European-style national health care systems. Moreover, federal tax policy also heavily subsidizes private, employer-provided health insurance. So, this is not a clean choice between public and private approaches.

At the end of the rhetoric, however, congressional Democrats aren't proposing to reauthorize a program to insure low-income children. Instead, they are proposing a massive expansion of subsidized health care to middle-class families, funded by a large increase in heavily regressive tobacco taxes.

That's an unwise, unfair and fiscally risky scheme.

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JWR contributor Robert Robb is a columnist for The Arizona Republic. Comment by clicking here.

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