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Kaiser Family Foundation Cites MnFMI Commentary on SCHIP

Editorials, Opinion Piece Address Debate on Revised SCHIP Bill

[Nov 01, 2007]

      Summaries of two recent editorials and an opinion piece that address the debate over a revised SCHIP bill passed on Thursday by the House appear below.


  • Bangor Daily News: “Instead of chiding Congress for ‘wasting time’ by passing” the revised SCHIP bill, President Bush “should consult with members of his own party to understand why this measure is needed,” a Daily News editorial states. According to the editorial, Bush has threatened to veto the legislation because “he doesn’t want the government making decisions for doctors and customers,” but that argument has “put him in a corner” on the issue. “To get out of that corner,” Bush should consult with Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to “understand why they are such strong supporters” of SCHIP, the editorial states, adding, “Maybe if they explain the program allows ‘customers’ — children, in this case — who now have no relationship with a doctor because they have no insurance, to start one, he’ll better understand and support the program” (Bangor Daily News, 10/30).
  • San Antonio Express-News: Both Democrats and Republicans “could have done more last week to advance passage” of the revised SCHIP bill, an Express-News editorial states. According to the editorial, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “should apologize to her Republican colleagues for unnecessarily ramming a vote through,” and “Republicans in opposition should accede that the new bill is a win for uninsured children and a win for taxpayers, who already foot the bill when the uninsured get sick” (San Antonio Express-News, 10/29).

Opinion Piece

  • Craig Westover, St. Paul Pioneer Press: “If Democrats really want to improve the health of low-income children, expanding a government program like SCHIP is not the way to do it” because no evidence exists that “expanding health insurance is a cost-effective way to improve children’s health,” Westover, a senior policy fellow at the Minnesota Free Market Institute, writes in a Pioneer Press opinion piece. In addition, he writes, the revised SCHIP bill would make private health insurance more expensive because the program reimburses health care providers at lower rates, which would prompt providers to “raise prices” to compensate and would increase the federal cigarette tax to finance an expansion of the program, which results in a “tax burden that falls primarily on the poor.” According to Westover, rather than expand SCHIP, Congress should pass legislation that would allow U.S. residents to purchase health insurance across state lines, which “doesn’t raise anybody’s taxes, doesn’t expand government subsidies and reduces, not increases, the cost of private insurance — especially for those families targeted by SCHIP” (Westover, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 10/30).


In debate over the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) with our own David Strom on KSTP News program “At Issue” (Sunday, 10/21), Ember Reichgott Jung led off her comments with the Democratic talking point —

Republicans would rather spend billions on the war in Iraq than a fraction of the cost on health care for children.

Reichgott Jung and the Democrats might think they have a winner in that line, but what it really demonstrates is a total disregard for reality.

One’s position on the war in Iraq has no relationship with one’s position on SCHIP. In fact, connecting the two only intends to cut off debate, not further honest discussion.

A legislator’s rationale for a vote for or against funding the war and for or against funding SCHIP must stand on their merits. Tying the two together is what Princeton Professor Harry Frankfurt unapologetically describes as “bullshit” in his book of the same name.

Writing in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Minnesota Free Market Institute Senior Policy Fellow Craig Westover notes: “Bullsh*t, (according to Frankfurt) is a misrepresentation short of an actual lie. To avoid the consequences of the truth, a liar makes a specific false statement, replacing truth with fabrication. A person cannot tell a lie unless he knows what the truth is and what its impact is. Bullsh*t, on the other hand, is indifferent to the truth.

“That is not to say slinging bull is morally superior to lying. It simply serves a different purpose. Lying hides the fact that the speaker is not telling the truth. Bullsh*t hides the fact that the truth is of no importance. It might contain fact, but the use of facts is meant to create an impression that is not necessarily connected with reality. The fault lies not in getting something wrong, says Frankfurt, but in not even trying to get it right.”

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