What was Kay Bailey Hutchison thinking? As the only Texas Republican to support a massive expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Hutchison’s vote is contrary to the wisdom of Texas’ fiscal conservatives on a program of questionable effectiveness. The program is a starter-kit for socialized medicine, crowds out what’s left of the health care marketplace, and is an open invitation to fraud and abuse. It’s also part of the health-care entitlement mix pushing Texas (and the other states) towards bankruptcy.

The bipartisan apologists in Texas for the program like to say that the program brings in federal dollars. But it costs a lot of Texas tax dollars to bring in those federal dollars — which, by the way, is our money taken from us to be given back to us.

What a scam! CHIP is an expensive ponzi scheme that, even by the standards of its supporters, doesn’t deliver what they promise or advertise. But that’s because what they really want, but won’t say, is to socialize medicine like Canada and Europe.

While advertised as a program for children, almost $1 billion a year in federal dollars alone is spent on CHIP to insurance not those kids, but adults. Right now 14 states use the CHIP money to provide health care to adults who should instead get a job. Of those 14, 8 actually spend most of their money CHIP money on adults. Talk about a bait-and-switch. The CHIP isn’t about poor kids, but expanding government.

Senator Cornyn and the other Texas Republicans were right to vote against it. President Bush was right to veto the measure, and it looks like his veto will stand.

Texas isn’t one of those states using CHIP money for adults, but it’s only a matter time. After all, it was about a dozen Republicans who joined with Democrats in unraveling the 2003 welfare reforms that aimed to eliminate the fraud and abuse rampant in the system. The bad old days are back; with Washington’s blessings (and Hutchison’s vote) it could get worse.

If we want to make health care more affordable, Washington and Austin would do well to end the tax disparity between employer-purchased plans and individual insurance, to end the mandates for coverage so people buy what they want and need, and to allow true competition in the health care market.

None of that happens with health care programs run by the government. Everyone in England has national dental health insurance, and they all have equally bad teeth. When people from Canada or Europe get sick, they come to the U.S. for treatment — because care is rationed in those places. What’s the good of “free” health insurance if you don’t have access to health care? High taxes, low services, big bureacracies.

Then-Gov. Bush was wrong to involve Texas in CHIP back in the late 90s. It is expensive, getting more so, and only hurts Texas’ economy by forcing bigger government. Hopefully he’ll continue to oppose expansion of the program, as will Senator Cornyn and the rest of Texas Republican delegation.

Otherwise, Texas taxpayers will find their take-home pay chipped away even more.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Michael Quinn Sullivan and his wife have three children. He is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. Check out his podcast, “Reflections on Life and Liberty.”

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