Institute for Health Freedom Sponsors A Health
Policy Forum at the National Press Club
August 12, 1998
The Institute for Health Freedom held a health policy
forum at the National Press Club on June 24 to discuss
current tobacco tax and children's health care issues.
At that time, the Institute also released a new study
titled Are American Children Being Lured into Socialized
Policy experts from around the country gathered to
discuss current efforts to expand government health
care programs through the use of tobacco taxes. Proceeds
from the forum follow:
Why a Forum on Tobacco and KidCare?
"While a lot of media attention has been paid to the
call for raising tobacco taxes to pay for new children's
health care programs, very little attention has been
paid to the unintended consequences of expanding government
health care programs for children," said Sue Blevins,
President of the Institute for Health Freedom. "That
is why we are holding this forum today -- to share perspectives
on tobacco and children's health care that others have
Universal Health Care Still Alive
Ed Hudgins of the Cato Institute reminded Americans
that the original Clinton health care plan was going
to be funded by tobacco taxes. He held up a copy of
a book titled The President's Health Security Plan,
saying "don't forget this plan was going to be funded
by sin taxes in the sum of $105 billion dollars."
Hudgins also pointed out that although the universal
health care plan failed to get passed at the federal
level in 1994, the Kids First back-up plan was recently
enacted at the state level. "The same thing is likely
to happen with the tobacco issue. If it doesn't get
passed at the federal level, supporters will probably
move their tobacco proposals to the state level," added
Medicaid a Middle Class Entitlement?
Naomi Lopez of the Pacific Research Institute, author
of the study released that day, presented an overview
of current efforts to expand government health care
for children at the state level. She stressed that,
while nearly all Americans agree that children should
have access to quality health care, the majority believe
that parents should be the one's controlling children's
health care decisions -- not the federal government.
"However, parental control is being diminished by new
federal and state children's health care programs,"
The new State Children's Health Insurance Program
(SCHIP) is both the federal and state governments' main
avenue for expanding new programs. Enacted as part of
the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, SCHIP gives states
$48 billion federal dollars over ten years to expand
their Medicaid programs or create new state programs.
"Most states are expanding their Medicaid programs,"
said Lopez. "Some states are expanding Medicaid to families
with incomes three to four times the poverty level."
This, in turn, will encourage families to drop private
coverage in lieu of the new government health care programs.
In the end, families will lose control over how their
children's health care is administered.
Lopez also cited another way that children are being
enrolled in government health care. "One of the most
frightening examples of this expansion is being done
through school-based health centers. Children are receiving
health and medical services in public schools, often
without parental consent," she advised.
Lopez added, "School-based health centers are growing
rapidly and are expanding their missions to include
a broad array of services such as psychological and
reproductive counseling." She also warned that, while
helping to cover uninsured children is a noble goal,
policy makers should make sure they do not force all
children into a single government health program, as
has happened to seniors with Medicare.
Alternative for Covering Uninsured Children
John Hood, President of the John Locke Foundation,
explained how North Carolina is tackling the children's
health insurance issue.
"North Carolina has figured out a way to give working
families a tax credit for the purchase of children's
health insurance," said Hood. This approach, he explained,
would establish tax fairness because, currently, families
who purchase health insurance on their own must pay
taxes on that purchase, while health insurance purchased
through an employer is fully excluded from taxation.
The North Carolina approach would level the playing
field for health insurance taxation, thus encouraging
working families to obtain private health coverage for
Finally, panelists responded to queries from attendees
who included a broad array of policy experts from think
tanks, Congressional staffers, and journalists. Additionally,
television reporters from America's Voice interviewed
the panelists. The interviews were aired on two television
programs, along with live appearances on the programs
by Naomi Lopez.
For a copy of the study titled Are American
Children Being Lured into Socialized Medicine? visit
the following web site:
or write to the Institute for Health Freedom, 1155 Connecticut
Ave., NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036.
This article was originally published in the July/August
issue of Health Freedom Watch, the bimonthly
watchdog report published by the Institute for Health
Helping to cover uninsured children is a noble goal,
but lawmakers should make sure they do not force
all children into a single government health program,
as has happened to seniors with Medicare.