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Gore dashes for kid cash
Federal health-insurance plan would cost $42,000 per child
By Patrick Poole
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
In an Ohio campaign appearance with actor Rob Reiner, Vice President Al
unveiled a plan to expand a federal health insurance program for children
$42 billion or $42,000 per child.
The proposal is to increase funding of the State Children's Health
Program <http://www.hcfa.gov/init/children.htm> or SCHIP, a 5-year, $24
billion effort to provide government health insurance coverage to children
in families making less than 200 percent of the poverty level and who don't
qualify for Medicaid.
According to documents obtained from Gore's campaign, the new SCHIP plan is
to expand the program by $42 billion, yet the program will only cover an
additional 1 million of the 11 million children without health insurance --
leaving millions more without any coverage.
The Gore plan was quickly panned by Grace-Marie Arnett, president of the
Washington, D.C.-based Galen Institute, <http://www.galen.org> a
not-for-profit research and education organization that focuses on
free-market health-care reforms.
"What are these people thinking?" Arnett asked incredulously. "Did anyone
their campaign run the numbers on this proposal? At $42,000 per child,
anyone could go out in the private market and buy private insurance for
these children without all the bureaucrats with their hands out in
Arnett advocates restructuring of the SCHIP program to allow the money to
flow to parents through tax credits and insurance vouchers and allowing
states greater flexibility in setting up their SCHIP programs without
expanding their current Medicaid systems, the policy favored by the Clinton
"Expanding SCHIP is virtually useless unless you change the whole structure
of the program and stop forcing states to expand Medicaid," Arnett says.
"That would free the states up to innovate and work with the private sector
to come up with alternatives without giving the federal government control
of your children's health care."
While the SCHIP program has been heralded as one of the greatest
of the Clinton administration, the success of the program has been called
When Congress authorized the program as part of the Balanced Budget Act of
1997, the Clinton administration expected to enroll 5 million children
before the end of this year. But Health and Human Services Secretary Donna
Shalala has admitted that only 2.6 million will be enrolled by September.
The SCHIP program has also failed to stem the tide of the uninsured in
America. Under the Clinton administration, more than 8 million people have
lost their insurance, including 2.4 million children. In fact, the SCHIP
program may be one of the contributing causes of the growing ranks of
Gore has used the uninsured children issue to attack Gov. George W. Bush
after Texas failed to set aside $450 million for the state during 1998 as
part of the SCHIP program. But as WorldNetDaily recently reported,
html> more than 32 states were not able to spend any of their 1998 SCHIP
allotments because of stringent regulations attached to the money and the
lengthy delays the Clinton administration experienced in approving many
states' SCHIP plans.
Because of the difficulties that states have had in navigating the Clinton
administration's SCHIP maze, 41 states are scheduled next month to lose
than $1.9 billion designated for their 1998 SCHIP allotments due to their
inability to get their programs up and running in time to take advantage of
the federal funds.
WorldNetDaily also reported last month
html> that a recent study <http://www.hschange.com/issuebriefs/issue29.html
by researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change found that
SCHIP has resulted in millions of low-income children being forced off
private insurance coverage as employers look to shift health insurance
to taxpayers. Thus, Gore may be advocating expanding a program that has
exacerbated the very problem it was intended to solve.
Another issue that Gore has used to attack Bush is Social Security. But
Michael Tanner, a Social Security expert at the Cato Institute,
<http://www.cato.org> says that trying to address Gore on the issue is like
hitting a moving target.
"Al Gore has constantly reinvented himself on Social Security," said
"For a time there was the 'What, me worry?' Al, who disputed the very need
for Social Security reform. Then there was Anti-investment Al, who
Bush's reform proposals as a 'risky scheme,' 'casino economics' and 'Wall
Street roulette.' But now he's 'Al Gore, Man with a Plan,' but neither of
the two proposals actually fixes the problem."
The two proposals currently advocated by Gore involve paying down the
national debt and attributing the interest savings towards the Social
Security Trust Fund, and creating incentives to encourage low-income
to save on their own by using government money to match workers'
Tanner noted that the Congressional Budget Office <http://www.cbo.gov>
evaluated both proposals when they were put forward by President Clinton
last year and concluded that the plans had no merit. CBO Director Dan L.
Crippen has derided Gore's plan, saying that it just defers costs to future
"Merely changing the bookkeeping for the Social Security trust funds may
only make us feel better at the expense of our kids," he told the
Post in an interview last May.
In testimony <http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=1683&from=3&sequence=0>
before Congress last November, Crippen said that using the interest savings
from the national debt would be a placebo for real Social Security reform.
"Adding to the trust fund balances does nothing to ensure that the
economic resources will be there to support the programs; it simply shifts
money from one government pocket to another. In fact, by relieving the most
visible symptom of the program's fiscal distress, additional transfers from
the general fund may lull the nation into overlooking the fund's less
obvious problems. ... Plans that shift funds from one government pocket to
another do nothing to address those programs' actual financing problem ...
and in fact could postpone corrective action."
The General Accounting Office, the auditing arm of Congress, also examined
the proposals last year and was equally dismissive. Testifying before a
congressional committee last year,
filename=a399095t.txt&directory=/diskb/wais/data/gao> Comptroller of the
United States David M. Walker said that the interest savings proposal "does
not represent a Social Security reform plan and does not come close to
'saving Social Security.'"
"I don't think that Gore has any real plan to address Social Security's
problems at the moment," Tanner said. "He's ducking the need to do
about shoring up the program's finances and increase returns for workers.
That's what the debate should be about."
Both Arnett and Tanner told WorldNetDaily that the presidential campaigns
should demonstrate marked public policy differences between the candidates.
"At the end of the day, under Gore's plan, the federal government is still
going to have to increase taxes to cover the shortfalls and increase the
retirement age. There's no way to get around the fact that his plan does
nothing for Social Security." Tanner said.
Due to the Democratic National Convention being held in Los Angeles this
week, staff in the Gore 2000 Nashville, Tenn., campaign headquarters told
WorldNetDaily that none of Gore's spokespeople were available to comment
Let us know your opinion about the government's role in providing health
insurance by voting in today's WorldNetDaily poll.
Patrick S. Poole <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> is a regular contributor
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