Everyone is about to get a refresher-course on the efficiency inspired by scarcity. According to press reports, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst wants to get more eligible kids on the state health insurance program. But he’s also committed to keeping the overall budget growth low. The solution? Policy trade-offs.

Let’s be clear, expanding government health care programs is the wrong thing to do, on every level. We should be in the business of weaning the population off welfare, providing the tools for self-sufficiency and freeing the marketplace.

The “Children’s Health Insurance Program” (CHIP) is the vehicle of choice for the left around the nation in promoting backdoor socialism. Texas isn’t there… yet. But Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is quoted by the press as saying about allegedly eligible children, “If I had a magic wand, I’d get them all enrolled in the CHIP program.”

If he had indeed a magic wand, one would rather he used it to free the marketplace of the burdensome regulations and mandates that make health care, and insurance, so expensive.

While Mr. Dewhurst is to be commended for working to hold the budget line so far this session, and for his interest in seeing kids be healthy, the government health care prescription is dangerous medicine.

It is never moral to tie people to the public dole. And socialism, no matter it’s form, is always an economic disaster. In its most extreme forms, look at Cuba where health care is abysmal, or Canada where it is heavily rationed. Just visit Europe, where 50 years of socialism (starting with health care) have created societies incapable of innovating, creating or producing.

Programs like CHIP have perverse economic and moral affects on the marketplace. As the program grows and is expanded, costs for taxpayers rise. This, in turn, decreases the capital available for savings and investment. As a result, employers deal with the higher cost of government by realizing they rid themselves of a costly expense by eliminating costly health care plans as employee benefits.

This is known as “crowd-out” — as in, programs funded through tax dollars “crowding out” voluntary plans available competitively.

Some argue CHIP is a “less expensive” program than Medicaid, which is true. But that’s like saying hitting yourself in the head with a hammer hurts less than with an anvil. Folks also contend having kids on CHIP is cheaper than them possibly utilizing emergency rooms for care. The actual evidence is rather scant. And there are a great many among the working poor who simply don’t want to be on the government welfare roles.

We should be about the business of freeing people from the shackles of dependency. No parent wants their child’s health care to be in the hands of bureaucrat. Let’s focus our energies in understanding the underlying problems in the medical market, not further enslave and entrap people in endless government programs.

Should thousands more want to apply for the government health care plan, Mr. Dewhurst has apparently must be committed to finding the money from among existing resources. He said directly in our video interview earlier this week “no new taxes.”

There is reason to be skeptical about the validity of the government health insurance programs. And there is even more reason to be skeptical of politicians seeking to expand the number of participants. But in this case, rather than increasing the size of government to expand an entitlement program, Mr. Dewhurst has made sure the discussion will be held against the backdrop of comparing the value and worth of the program against every other line-item taxpayers are asked to fund.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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