October 10, 2007

SCHIP Income Eligibility: $100K, $120K ….. Hey, It Looks Like the Sky’s the Limit!

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:43 pm

Or, Maybe We Should Rename It the Government-Paid Health Plan for Paris Hilton’s Kids

It looks like SCHIP expansion opponents owe an apology to fellow Wide Open blogger Jeff and all the other libs and leftists who support it.

You see, we apparently haven’t been telling the truth when we’ve claimed that families with incomes as high as $80,000 a year could qualify under the program.

We were wrong, and we are sorry.

You see, depending on what type of income is involved, the threshold is much higher. It may even be true that in all but a few states, there is no upper limit.

Democracy Project’s Bruce Kesler made the point earlier today (HT Michelle Malkin) as he investigated California’s SCHIP program (bolds are mine):

I just phoned California’s SCHIP program, Healthy Families, and found that my family could qualify.

This is the scenario I laid out:

  • Husband, age 62 (which I’ll be in 2-years), collecting early Social Security; Wife, age 41;
  • Two minor dependent children, ages 2 and 7;
  • ….. Mutual fund capital gains of $50,000 and ordinary dividends of $30,000;
  • Earned income of $2289 a month by wife at job without medical benefits.

….. Thus, even though having substantial liquid assets, saved through a lifetime of scrimping in order to fund retirement, I would qualify for California’s Healthy Families SCHIP program. Assets and unearned income (e.g., Social Security, capital gains, ordinary dividends) do not count against SCHIP qualification.

Yes, the exercise was theoretical, because Bruce is two years away from 62, and his wife is two years away from re-entering the workforce. But when that happens, their kids and (if I’m interpreting correctly) the couple themselves would be SCHIP-eligible under current law, even before considering the expanded nonsense the President Bush just vetoed.

For those keeping score, Kesler’s income as described would be:

  • $80,000 in investment returns — not considered income by SCHIP.
  • Social Security benefits of at least $12,000 a year (probably more) — not considered income by SCHIP.
  • Roughly $27,000 in wages earned by Mrs. Kesler — the only item of the three considered income by SCHIP.

That’s at least $119,000 in income (27 + 12 + 80); yet the Keslers qualify (though Mr. Kesler has quite eloquently stated why he won’t apply).

In California, then, it appears (based on Democracy Project’s inquiry) that there’s nothing stopping a trust fund baby, if their ONLY income comes from investment returns (i.e., it’s “unearned”), from qualifying for SCHIP! Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie could sit at home and stop boring us with their TV show, appearances, and commercials, have babies by any number of entourage members, and join in the SCHIP party. Is this a great country or what?

Seriously folks, 46 states and the District of Columbia (HT Democracy Project) do not have an asset test for SCHIP (see “UPDATE for mind-boggling detail” below). It seems likely that they, like California, as Kesler has just shown, don’t include “unearned” income either. Such laxity in regards to assets and “unearned” income may also be present in some or all of these states’ much larger Medicaid programs.

This is nuts.

How about we fix what’s broken in SCHIP and Medicaid before embarking headlong on an ill-advised expansion? President Bush was right to veto SCHIP; the minority in Congress will be right should they sustain it.

Meanwhile, I hope Jeff and other SCHIP advocates accept our sincere apologies for underestimating just how messed up the existing system that is supposed to be delivering health care to the poor really is.

Cross-posted at Wide Open.

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UPDATE for Mind-Boggling Detail, Oct. 11: Let’s start with the 50 states and work backwards from the Kaiser link pointed to by Democracy Project (limits noted are for a family of 3, per Kaiser) –

  • Texas has a meaningful asset test — “In Texas, the SCHIP asset test applies only to families with income above 150 percent of the federal poverty line. There is a $2,000 asset limit for Medicaid and a $5,000 asset limit for separate SCHIP program.” I would argue that this one seems a bit harsh, but without seeing the definition of “asset,” one can’t be sure. 49 states remain.
  • Utah is described as having a Medicaid test, but no SCHIP test is indicated, even though there is a separate SCHIP program. Same goes for Montana. Still at 49.
  • Rhode Island “has adopted a $10,000 asset limit, however no implementation date has been set. No separate SCHIP program.” If it’s not implemented until sometime “out there,” it doesn’t exist. Still at 49.
  • Oregon has “a $10,000 asset limit for separate SCHIP program.” Make that 48.
  • Missouri “has eliminated the asset test for children’s “regular” Medicaid. Children in the Medicaid expansion group are subject to a “net worth” test of $250,000. No separate SCHIP program.” That’s a pretty loose and limited test (ridiculously loose if tax-deferred retirement accounts are excluded), but that takes it down to 47.
  • South Carolina is described as having a $30,000 asset limit for Medicaid; it’s unclear from the table whether there’s a separate SCHIP program. Without further investigation, this is a “not sure.”

There are no other indications at the Kaiser link of asset tests for SCHIP or Medicaid programs. So, based on the Kaiser information, 46 or 47 states don’t have an asset test.

Note that this does NOT address the definition of “income.” As noted above, Democracy Project reported that “unearned” income isn’t considered “income” for eligibility purposes in California.

Other states could be more all-inclusive in their definitions of “income.” For example, Ohio, which doesn’t have a separate SCHIP program with its own set of rules, does pick up “unearned income” as part of “countable income” (type the word “countable” into your browser’s find feature at the link). But it’s also worth noting that “Resource limits” don’t apply to the “Low Income Family (LIF) group.” There otherwise appear to be resource tests for eligibility outside the LIF group, but they specifically exclude retirement accounts (with the apparent exception of what can be withdrawn without penalty). This means that any “income” within the retirement accounts (capital gains, dividends, and interest) is not considered.

Carnival Barking (101007)

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 10:05 am

The Carnival of Ohio Politics’ 86th Edition is here, compiled by Lisa Renee at Glass City Jungle.

Yours truly let submission slip (sorry, Lisa). Lisa, you could have used Agent Maxwell Smart as your 86er, instead of (argh) a Pittsburgh Steeler’s uniform.

Boring Made Dull’s XXVth on Econ and Social Policy is here.

Dems’ Poster Child Abuse, and Other ‘Arguments’ That Effectively Concede Defeat

I could get all wound up about the Democrats’ incredibly misguided use of the Frost family as false fodder for flogging the President over his veto of the SCHIP legislation, but several folks have done the heavy lifting, so there’s no need for that.

For those who need to catch up, here goes:

  • Michelle Malkin — “legislation-by-anecdote is a tricky thing, and should only be done when the anecdotes actually hold some water.” (FWIW, I disagree. Hard cases often make bad law. Replace “done” with “considered.”– Ed.)
  • Mark Steyn (here and here) — “if this is the face of the “needy” in America, then no-one is not needy.”
  • Dan Riehl — “I don’t see someone who needs my help in F Halsey Frost.”
  • Rick Moran — “If the President had dared to be that dishonest, the press would have been all over him.” (and rightfully so — Ed.)

The next stage was sooooo predictable, but it amazes every time: Now that the Frosts’ health-insurance sob story has been blown to bits (and it has been), the hard-left’s anger has been turned loose on the above parties, the FReeper who first posted on the situation and others who had the nerve to do what Old Media wouldn’t do. That is, Malkin et al vetted the story, instead of copy-pasting a press release and calling it “journalism.” To the sore-loser left, it’s as if anyone who so much as Googled “Graeme Frost” is a stalker engaging in harassment.

Steyn responds, as only Steyn can:

Sorry, no sale. The Democrats chose to outsource their airtime to a Seventh Grader. If a political party is desperate enough to send a boy to do a man’s job, then the boy is fair game. As it is, the Dems do enough cynical and opportunist hiding behind biography and identity, and it’s incredibly tedious. And anytime I send my seven-year-old out to argue policy you’re welcome to clobber him, too. The alternative is a world in which genuine debate is ended …..

Given the circumstances, Michelle is, of course, right about this — “The children deserve much sympathy and compassion.” They also deserve to have health insurance purchased by parents who can clearly afford it.

Unfortunately, shoot-the-messenger is a time-honored tactic in Ohio Blogland by lefties who appear to be out of arguments, out of originality, and intellectually bankrupt. Examples:

  • If you expose the bogus nature of the Food Stamp Challenge, you must “hate poor people.”
  • If you point out that Old Media won’t cover a boycott influencing at least 10% of the country against a company with steeply declining sales that appears to be bent on ignoring it, even if doing so could jeopardize its very existence — a company where you happen to have a relative working (who you’d like to see keep his job), and another who is retired from there (who you’d like to see continue to receive his retirement check and retiree health care) — you, among other things, are “hate mongering,” have an “anti-gay agenda,” and (of course) harbor “hatred and bigotry.”
  • If you wonder how why the hometown newspaper could have failed to look into a new imam’s possible history of promoting anti-Semitism from the pulpit and association with at least one proven terrorist, after the previous imam lost his position over the very same things, you have “hatred for ….. Middle Eastern’ers” — oh, and “repressed sexual tension” (nothing “personal” about that, eh?).

Zheesh. If that’s the best y’all can do, the respective debates must be over.

Cross-posted at Wide Open.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (101007)

A three-word reaction to this from Michael Graham (HT Michelle Malkin) — How dare they?

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I can’t wait for someone to tell me that this latest statement from Ahmadinejad (HT to Mark at Weapons of Mass Discussion) got lost in the translation and doesn’t really mean what it clearly does:

Iran’s outspoken president marked Quds Day with a public call for the entire population of Israel to be deported to Alaska or Canada.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech Israel should exist far away from the Islamic world, and called on Europe and the United States to use its foreign aid money to set up a new Israel in their own backyard.

There are still those who want us to believe that the Iranian tyrant didn’t really say he wanted to “wipe Israel off the map” a couple of years ago. Guess we don’t have to debate that one any more, do we?

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This is apparently part of the Old Media Reporter’s Handbook: When war casualties are up, rush it to the top; when they’re down, either don’t believe it or downplay it. There is no better exhibit as to why:

  • Old Media credibility is in the tank — only 26% give journalists high or very high ratings for their ethics.
  • Their audiences are shrinking.
  • Their businesses are deteriorating — or did you not notice that New York Times stock is still below 20, despite the Dow and S&P 500 closing at record levels?

There’s more from Wake Up America, where Susan Duclos demonstrates that this disparate treatment of equally newsworthy events is a red-letter violation of a more important handbook — the Journalist’s Code of Ethics.

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Here’s news (“Iraq insurgency: People rise against al-Qa’eda”) you aren’t going to see bubble up to the top in American Old Media, courtesy of the mindset described in the previous item.

Also this (HT Instapundit):

Operation Iraqi Freedom has graduated from a battle against a combination of indigenous insurgents and foreign terrorists (al Qaeda) to one against al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has made Iraq its watershed moment, and they are losing badly. This transition of Iraq into al Qaeda’s quagmire is remarkable and momentous in world history, and is going largely unreported by the main stream media who is searching for the next flash-bang to report.

Or for some way to sabotage the success.

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Haditha as a possible Al Qaeda-engineered massacre — So what did Murtha know, and when did he know it?

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If you haven’t yet seen the great video promoting the breakthrough drug Tryphorgetin, here’s a link to it (the video, not the drug).

Positivity: Rescue Hero Is to Meet the PM

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Plymouth, UK:

07:30 – 01 October 2007

A firefighter from Plymouth hailed as a national hero is to be congratulated personally by the Prime Minister.David Jenkins, right, has been crowned a National Life Saver in the annual Vodafone Life Savers Awards.

David, originally from the city but now with the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, was nominated by colleagues for saving four children from drowning.

David, who was off duty, was fishing on the river mouth in Ogmore-by-Sea when he noticed two girls and two boys drifting past him on an inflatable lilo.

They were unable to paddle against the incoming tide and were rapidly being carried upstream.

As David watched, one girl fell into the water and immediately disappeared below the surface.

Without hesitating, David dived into the river. He reached the young girl and on surfacing grabbed hold of the other and swam to the shore, bringing the two terrified girls to safety.

Meanwhile, the current had carried the two boys further up the river.

By the time David had rescued the girls both boys were also in the river.

More used to flames than water, David eventually brought all the children to safety, reuniting a family which, although apparently speaking no English, made it clear how grateful they were for his courage and determination in saving all four children. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.