Now, the Education Department is signaling that it will exploit its access to federal school lunch enrollees to dragoon more kids into the government health care empire.
I joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius last week to highlight the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge to enroll five million children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) within five years. A phenomenal coalition of partners, ranging from state governors to national advocacy organizations, has stepped up to the challenge to enroll kids and educate families.
I want to thank my good friend Secretary Sebelius for her extraordinary leadership and unwavering commitment to ensure that everyone has access to excellent and affordable health care.
…Our job is to make sure everyone knows how to enroll. There is a role for every member of the school community, including superintendents, principals, teachers, school nurses, and lunch room staff to get involved.
In fact, recent federal legislation has made it possible to use the school lunch application to do more than refer families to health coverage. Under certain conditions, school lunch programs can share information from a student’s application with Medicaid and CHIP, speeding up the process of getting children covered.
1) The use of school lunch applications to boost government health care rolls raises all sorts of privacy red flags.
2) The idea that it is the federal educrats’ job to “make sure everyone knows how to enroll” demonstrates how extensive their mission creep has grown.
3) The liberal view on uninsured families is that they are ignorant of the government health insurance programs and more needs to be spent and done to conduct “outreach” and education.” But libs’ own surveys show that awareness of the program is plenty high. Many parents have simply chosen voluntarily to keep their kids out of big nanny clutches.
A survey commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide in June found:
* Awareness of the SCHIP program more than doubled in a single year, from 24 percent in 2000 to 57 percent in 2001.
* Similarly, 54 percent of parents now understand that their children may be eligible for the program, up from 36 percent last year.
Another study, conducted by the Urban Institute, found that 88 percent of low-income respondents had heard of SCHIP and/or Medicaid – but fewer than one-fourth (24 percent) of those ever inquired about the programs. As Figure I shows, of low-income parents whose children had no health care coverage:
* 22.1 percent said they “did not need or want” the program.
* 17.7 percent said they did not think their child was eligible.
* 9.5 percent thought there would be too many “administrative hassles.”
* 17.8 percent said their children had been enrolled in SCHIP or Medicaid at some time in the past year, but no longer were.
* 11 percent said they had applied but never enrolled their children.
…We know that virtually all those who said they didn’t want or need SCHIP or Medicaid consider themselves to be in excellent to good health. We also know that a large number (28.9 percent) of their uninsured neighbors and friends have had experience with these programs and rejected them by dropping out or by applying but never enrolling. Another 10 percent say the “administrative hassles” prevent them from enrolling.
People talk, and word gets around. SCHIP and Medicaid have been tried and rejected by nearly a third of low-income uninsured. People in good health say they don’t want it or need it – it is too much of a hassle. Besides, they know that if circumstances change, if one of the kids gets sick and needs serious care, they can get covered instantly. In many cases, they can enroll after they receive the care and have Medicaid pay the bill. They don’t see any need to pre-enroll just to satisfy some bureaucrat who wants to count noses.
The state marketing efforts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s push for enrollment all try to pretend that SCHIP is not a government program. The Kaiser Commission report on the selling of SCHIP was explicit: “The ads are universally appealing and polished-looking, with a commercial feel. It is not immediately evident that the ads are for a government health program at all.” Consumer advocates might take exception to this deceptive advertising, but it doesn’t matter. Poor people are not stupid. They know what’s going on, and they know this is a government program. They reject it for the same reason the advertisements try to hide the fact. People believe that government programs aimed at the poor are degrading and stigmatizing. They may enroll the kids if the kids get sick and there is no other choice, but they aren’t likely to be happy about it.
Rather than wasting money on all this feel-good, happy talk trying to prop up a program people say they don’t want and don’t need, perhaps we should simply make the money available to the uninsured so they can go out and buy a real insurance policy, one they can keep when they have stopped being poor.
Empowering these families to make their own private health care choices, however, would mean relinquishing power — the very opposite of the Obamacare architects’ and federal educrats’ agenda.
As I’ve said before in explaining the true agenda behind the federal school lunch expansion: Cede the children, feed the state.