First major step taken toward socialized medicine

Published 10:59 am Monday, October 1, 2007

By By Jo Bonner
Last week the House of Representatives took a major step toward socialized medicine and a taxpayer subsidized, government-run health system when it passed H.R. 976, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007.
Commonly known as S-CHIP, the program was created in 1997 to cover children of families who cannot pay for private insurance but have incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid. S-CHIP provides money to states to pay for insuring these children.
While I support S-CHIP and believe that it has worked, a $35 billion entitlement expansion is not the answer. In fact, the President's Fiscal Year 2008 budget request includes a $5 billion dollar expansion of S-CHIP that would allow states to continue to extend coverage to truly needy families.
Extending S-CHIP as it was originally designed – for low-income, uninsured children and pregnant women whose annual family income is approximately $40,000 – would cost $4.9 billion over the next five years. This program can be extended – in its current form – without raising taxes or cutting Medicare programs.
However, the expansion bill passed last week goes far beyond the original scope of the program, drastically raising taxes and allowing states to provide government-sponsored – and taxpayer funded – health care to families that in some cases may earn more than $100,000 a year.
In addition, H.R. 976 would relax citizenship verification requirements for illegal immigrants and encourage an estimated 2 million families to drop their existing private coverage and switch to government-run health care.
At the writing of this column, the bill still awaited a vote on the Senate floor. It is expected to pass; however, the president has promised a veto that would send the bill back to Congress.
To ensure that S-CHIP continues to operate during this debate and children currently on the plan will continue to be covered, Congress passed a "continuing resolution," appropriating temporary funds for the program.
I remain hopeful that we will be able to arrive at a solution that continues the mission of S-CHIP by providing quality health care to needy families in Alabama and throughout the United States; however, it is wrong to use S-CHIP reauthorization as an opportunity to expand government-run health care at the expense of hard-working Americans.
A New Low – Insulting Alabama's Workforce
Last Wednesday morning south Alabamians awoke to read in the Press-Register that Boeing had decided to insult Alabama's workforce.
As you all know, we are in the competition of a lifetime. Northrop Grumman Corp. and EADS North America have teamed up to compete to build the next generation of Air Force tankers in Mobile.
With the Air Force's decision getting close to the wire, our friends at Boeing decided to insult the people of Alabama and imply they aren't bright enough to assemble an airplane.
They even likened Alabama's ability to putting a tricycle together for the first time on Christmas morning. These types of remarks are completely unfounded. We need to step back and let these two great companies compete on the merits of their proposals.
In Memory of Mayer Mitchell
Mobile, and indeed the entire state, lost one of the great philanthropists of our times last week, and I lost someone who I consider a very special friend.
Mayer Mitchell loved life. When given a second chance at life, after being diagnosed at a young age with Hodgkin's lymphoma, he dedicated himself to ensuring that one day Mobile would have its own top rate cancer center. That dream is being fulfilled at the University of South Alabama's Mitchell Cancer Institute.
And, I can't think of a time when Mayer ever once asked anything for himself… he was always asking for others… other people who needed help, other causes that he deemed worthy.
He was truly one of those rare souls you occasionally stumble upon in life who was always giving, always helping others, always thinking big things about how he could help make a difference.
Mayer's legacy will last well past his lifetime, primarily because his family will see to it that his passion for doing good and for helping others will not be interrupted by his death. But make no mistake… his passing leaves a giant void in the life of our community, a community that has benefited greatly because of a man affectionately called Bubba.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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