When last we checked, the advocates of expanded SCHIP eligibility to kids (and adults) in families earning up to 300 percent or even 400 percent of the poverty line were arguing that such low- or lower-middle income families simply cannot afford private health coverage. "Ten million kids are without health care." "The Bush proposal to keep the limit at 200 percent of the poverty line is mean." Or something like that.
Forget the fact that kids in the majority of such families actually do have private health coverage. Forget the fact that 300 percent of the federal poverty level is about $62000 for a family of four; and 400 percent translates to $82600.
No, what is really amazing is a letter just sent from Congressman John Dingell to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, in which Dingell "disputes the claim that the cigarette tax [proposed to finance the SCHIP expansion] would unfairly impact lower-income residents, citing government data finding that 60% of adult smokers have incomes above 200% of the poverty level." (The Hill, 10/24)
So there we have it. Two hundred percent of poverty is way too poor to be a cutoff for SCHIP eligibility, but at the same time is wealthy enough for a new tax. You just can't make this kind of stuff up. The Beltway is a world unto itself.
[Cross-posted from www.medicalprogresstoday.com/blog/]