Earlier this month, I recommended that some of you contact US Rep. Joe Barton. Barton convinced the House Energy and Commerce Committee to eliminate performance bonuses for states that streamline their Medicaid and CHIP procedures so that more eligible low-income children can get and keep health coverage. States that receive these bonuses are implementing technology solutions and lowering barriers to insure kids who have been uninsured.
Well, last week Barton wrote me back, and here was his main argument: “Two years ago President Obama signed a law allowing it to grow and unfortunately opening up the door to fraud and waste. The bonus program relaxed the eligibility requirements and paid states extra money for each new child enrolled – whether they truly needed it or not. This program tossed out both the in-person interview requirement and the assets test in SCHIP, two aspects that were designed to ensure that the money allocated for SCHIP went to the children who really needed it the most.”
First, I objected to the phrase “whether they truly needed it or not”. All uninsured kids need healthcare.
But, this defense about fraud and waste is just political rhetoric. Every politician is against waste and fraud. It’s like being against tornadoes.
How can government defeat waste and fraud? Well, there are two basic methods. There’s what’s called “pay and chase.” For example, you pay providers with Medicare or Medicaid funds, then audit the fraudsters later and try to recoup. Then, there’s the preventive method, which is add to or tighten regulations.
But, I thought Barton hated more regulations. Here’s his statement straight off his website:
“The Obama administration says publicly that they are in favor of energy production then use rules and regulations to stifle development. New technologies are unlocking vast reserves of oil and natural gas that can power our nation for generations in an environmentally friendly way…. We should be focusing on solutions to remove government barriers to affordable energy. Instead, the administration continues to layer regulation after regulation that will drive electricity and fuel prices even higher.”
Let’s turn that logic on Barton:
“Barton says publicly that he is in favor of children’s healthcare then uses rules and regulations to stifle their development. New technologies are unlocking vast ways to open eligibility for kids that can power our nation for generations in a prevention friendly way… We should be focusing on solutions to remove government barriers to keep kids healthy. Instead, Barton wants to layer regulation after regulation that will drive healthcare costs even higher.”
My point is this: just as regulations add cost and hassle to oil companies so do they to needy families.
Barton must have gotten other gripes about his stand, because he posted the same points he wrote to me on his website under the ironic headline “Increasing Care for Kids, Cutting Waste.” Click here to view. He reiterates: My amendment does not take a dime from any child eligible for SCHIP.” OK, but how does that “increase care”?