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Tennessee lawmaker Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R.) said SCHIP is coming our way

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House Headed Toward ‘Socialized Medicine’

Tennessee lawmaker Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R.) said SCHIP is coming our way

“By the time your story appears, the U.S. House of Representatives may have taken a big step toward socialized medicine!”

So said a breathless Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) at 5:30 p.m. on August 1.  The congressman was just back from the House floor, where she called me after a day-long battle against what appeared to be inevitable enactment of SCHIP — that is, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program — as a permanent entitlement. 

Recalling how the program to provide health care for lower-income children was enacted in 1997 by a Republican-run Congress and run as a bloc grant to the states, Blackburn pointed out that the newly-minted SCHIP that Democrats are trying to shoehorn through the House would “make drastic changes” and make the program “a permanent entitlement costing $159.9 billion over the next ten years.”

Under the new SCHIP — the brainchild of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich) — that she and her colleagues will vote on almost momentarily, there is no income limit for eligibility to the program that was originally designed for those in lower income brackets.  As Blackburn noted, “if this becomes law, and someone makes up to $82,000 a year and pays the AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax], they are rich by IRS standards and poor by SCHIP standards:they are eligible for SCHIP!”

The Rangel-Dingel changes in the program include no sunsetting (it is reauthorized indefinitely), an end to state control of  it (“open-ended federal funding, even if states go over budget,” observed Blackburn), and further incentives for illegal immigrants.  At a time when municipalities such as Hazeltown, Pennsylvania and Prince William County, Virginia are passing measures to discourage the arrival of more illegal immigrants, SCHIP would actually permit illegal aliens to receive Medicaid by watering down citizenship verification standards.

As to how it would be paid, Blackburn noted that it would cut Medicare by $32.9 billion over ten years and increase cigarette taxes by 39 cents per cigarette package and and add an 84 cent tax increase to each dollar in the cost of cigars.

“Basically, Democrats are saying ‘kill seniors to pay for a bigger entitlement — smoke more, and pay more taxes,” said Blackburn.

The Tennessean recalled how there has been no hearing in either committee chaired by Dingell or Rangel, that it was brought to the floor today under a closed rule, and that the Democratic majority in the House has without hesitation struck down Republican motions to amend the SCHIP entitlement package.  Blackburn herself unsuccessfully battled for an amendment to deny eligibility to those convicted of a drug-related crime.  But her proposal lost, as did all the other GOP-sculpted amendments, on a near-party line vote.

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John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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