"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Expanding S-CHIP: Let’s Skip the Middlemen In Washington

There’s nothing stopping states from expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). New Jersey’s S-CHIP currently costs $480 million - $312 million from federal taxpayers and $168 million from state taxpayers. If the people of New Jersey want to extend the benefit to more citizens, all the state need do is fund it to whatever level of expansion desired.

So, why isn’t the state expanding NJ Family Care, its S-CHIP program? To fund an expansion the state would have to cut spending elsewhere in its budget or raise taxes (which is exactly the same thing the federal government will need to do to expand the program nationwide).

Given these options, Governor Jon Corzine and state legislators have decided not to fund an S-CHIP expansion, but would be thrilled to take credit for it if some other taxpayers could be found to pay for it. They’ve set their sites on federal taxpayers, who just happen to live in New Jersey.

For every tax dollar New Jerseyans send to Washington, New Jersey receives just 55 cents in return, the lowest return of the 50 states. This is to be expected because poorer states send fewer tax dollars to Washington and receive more help from the federal government. New Jersey is the first or second richest state in the nation and therefore, its citizens are taxed more heavily by the federal government and receive fewer benefits in return.

It doesn’t make financial sense for New Jerseyans to send additional tax dollars to Washington to expand a healthcare program for New Jersey - especially when 45 cents on every dollar is lost in the process. That would be a heavy price to pay merely to allow state lawmakers to take credit for extending a benefit while avoiding blame for raising taxes to pay for it.

If the goal is to double the number of people covered through NJ S-CHIP, the state will need $480 million. This can be achieved by earmarking one-half of last year’s sales tax increase to pay for expanding the program rather than using it for “property tax relief”. Or other state taxes can be increased by $480 million.

If the expansion is funded through the federal government, New Jersey taxpayers will need to send Washington an additional $696 million to receive $480 million in return. There are better ways to make healthcare insurance more affordable in New Jersey, but if we must expand NJ S-CHIP, let’s skip the middlemen in Washington.

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At 9:34 PM, Blogger The Real Sporer said...

But then the states, like yours and mine, would have to surrender all those lucrative construction contracts and union jobs that keep the Dems in power.

Why fix the bridges when you can build a new stadium and blame W 'cause you're broke.

At 11:46 PM, Blogger Trochilus said...

Every once in a while someone hits the nail on the head by pointing out the real shortsightedness of a weak policy argument.

This post is brilliant, absolutely brilliant!

The Governor’s refusal to meet the service needs he claims are necessary, while blaming others for that failure, is hypocrisy. And, as you point out, dollar for dollar, the State would be far better equipped to meet those perceived needs. It’s the same argument on the State level over “rebates.” We have to pay more taxes locally to get a portion of the money back from the State!

And here I thought the biggest example of hypocrisy on the part of the Governor this week, was demanding that Mayor Levy of Atlantic City resign immediately because of his behavior. The Philadelphia Inquirer, for example, reported on Saturday last that the Governor said

"It seems to me that the situation today can't go on for an extended period of time," Corzine said, calling Levy's drop from public life "dysfunctional and chaotic behavior."

Of course, the log in the Governor's eye is the fact that he seems to have forgotten that a few months ago, he plainly displayed real negligence in not wearing a seat belt, and arrogance in either refusing to tell the trooper to slow down, or, more likely, in actively encouraging him to drive too fast.

Both the negligence and the arrogance clearly and needlessly endangered other peoples’ lives -- not just his -- just so that he could rush to a meeting with the Rutgers athletes and Imus. As a result of his behavior, the Governor missed about 20 days of work, more than Levy did!

Bob Levy will have to face whatever consequences, if any, that may arise out of the investigation over his service record and benefits. But Levy at least took the responsible step of checking himself into a clinic because of his problems. As a result, he missed a few weeks of work – less than Corzine did for his irresponsible and risky actions.

But somehow the Governor felt obliged to travel down to Atlantic City and pontificate about the matter, obviously because there is a tight legislative political race going on this year in Atlantic County!

Why doesn’t he quit playing cheap schoolyard politics and start governing as if he understood that he is supposed to represent all of us!


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