Monday, January 28, 2008

Congressman Kuhl's Press Release on SCHIP

About an hour ago, I linked to a story which appeared in the Daily Messenger over the weekend, which "reported" that Massa had accepted Congressman Kuhl's challenge to a debate on SCHIP, and included a statement from the Massa campaign that the debate "details were being worked out." I did find it odd that such a forum was being hosted this early in the campaign, especially since Congressman Kuhl has indicated that he would make a formal announcement on whether he's running for reelection around the time that the Massa people claimed the debate would be hosted. But I linked to it anyway since I couldn't believe that the Daily Messenger would be this wrong in its reporting.

Turns out that there is no debate, and that Massa's campaign misread Congressman Kuhl's press release. Rather than being an invitation to debate, it was a challenge to Massa to get his facts straight on SCHIP. In addition, it seems very clear to me that the Daily Messenger didn't even bother to contact Congressman Kuhl's office about this supposed debate (as doing so would have immediately put any rumors to rest on this), which doesn't surprise me at all for a paper that continues to show its bias for Massa. I can only imagine what went through their heads on this one: "Well, Eric's people say there's a debate, so it must be true, let's not even bother contacting Randy's office."

Here's the press release in its entirety, issued last Wednesday:

WASHINGTON – Jan. 23 - U.S. Representative John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (R-Hammondsport) issued the following statement today:

"Mr. Massa continues to regurgitate the same ill-informed and incorrect statements about a deeply flawed SCHIP bill. From the levels of expansion to who can access this program, Mr. Massa needs to consult with his friends in the Democratic Party before spewing falsities about this particular bill. I am astonished at the amount of inaccuracies in Mr. Massa's position since prior to this bill he had simply repeated what Speaker Pelosi had told him to say. A puppet is only as smart as its master, and unfortunately this time the puppet decided to speak for itself and got the facts wrong.

I invite Mr. Massa to actually examine the flawed SCHIP bill and then take a stance. I refuse to vote for any SCHIP legislation that includes the most regressive tax increase in American history, enables coverage for illegal aliens, higher-income children, and adults, and spends billions of dollars to substitute private health insurance coverage with government-run healthcare coverage. Since Congress has already reauthorized and fully funded SCHIP for 18-months, we should not be rehashing last year’s battles, but instead working in a bipartisan manner to develop a longer-term reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program."

Here are the facts about the H.R. 3963:

1. H.R. 3963 enables illegal aliens to fraudulently enroll in Medicaid and SCHIP.

· H.R. 3963 severely weakens the current law by removing the documentation requests under the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), specifically the burden that citizens and nationals provide documentation proving their citizenship in order to be covered under Medicaid and SCHIP. Instead, the bill would require that a name and Social Security number be provided as documentation of legal status to acquire coverage and that those names and Social Security numbers be submitted to the Secretary to be checked for validity.

· In addition, this provision does not require that the individual presenting the name and Social Security Number (SSN) to document in any way that he or she is actually the person he or she is claiming to be. This is an open door to fraud and

2. H.R. 3963 taxes the poor to benefit the rich. The bill uses the funding gained from taxing the poor to pay for expanding SCHIP eligibility to higher-income families.

· In their official analysis of the H.R. 3963, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that 1.1 million new enrollees will be added to SCHIP as a result of an "expansion of SCHIP and Medicaid eligibility to new populations." This means that these children live in families whose incomes are too high in order to qualify for the SCHIP program today. H.R. 3963 will also allow New Jersey to receive full SCHIP reimbursements for families with incomes up to 350% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is $72,275 for a family of four this year and $84,455 for a family of five.

3. H.R. 3963 spends billions of dollars to substitute private health insurance coverage with government-run healthcare coverage.

· CBO projects that 50% of the 1.1 million new enrollees in the "expansion of SCHIP and Medicaid eligibility to new populations" category already have private health insurance coverage. This means that the taxpayers will simply be paying for the government to buy out the health insurance premiums of these children who already have quality private health insurance coverage instead of focusing on actually enrolling low-income, uninsured kids.

4. H.R. 3963 focuses on enrolling higher-income kids instead of low-income, uninsured kids.

· While CBO projects that H.R. 3963 will enroll 1.1 million kids who are in families with incomes too high to qualify for SCHIP now, only 800,000 currently SCHIP eligible kids will be enrolled as a result of H.R. 3963. This means that almost 50% more higher-income kids will be enrolled than current SCHIP eligible kids. Shouldn't SCHIP be focused on insuring low-income kids, not families who can already afford to purchase health insurance?

5. H.R. 3963 creates the most regressive tax increase in American history.

· In order to pay for 5 years of SCHIP and increased spending in Medicaid, H.R. 3963 will increase tobacco taxes by over $70 billion over the next 10 years. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) calls tobacco taxes "the most regressive of the federal taxes," meaning that the vast majority of any increases will be on the backs of low-income American families

6. H.R. 3963 increases the number of adults on SCHIP, allowing even more resources to be taken away from low-income, uninsured kids.

· According to official CBO projections, there could actually be over 500,000 more adults on SCHIP in 2012 than there are today. There were 700,596 adults enrolled in SCHIP at some point in FY2006, and CBO projects that up to 1,258,000 adults could be enrolled on SCHIP at some point during FY2012.

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