Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tax That Fellow Behind the Tree

Because of our alleged health-care crisis, governors all over the country are seeking to expand children’s health-care insurance coverage by increasing the income limit on who is eligible for a decade-old federal effort known as the Children’s Health Insurance program. In an opinion piece in The Dallas Morning News, John Castle of the Center for Public Policy Priorities (responding to an earlier piece by Texas Sen. John Cornyn) writes:

For every $1 Texas invests in CHIP, the federal government sends $2.64 in matching funds that go into the important health care sector of our economy.

In short, CHIP is good for Texas. Our congressional delegation needs to work with Mr. Bush to make sure that CHIP provides health care to as many Texas children as possible, and Mr. Cornyn needs to change sides in this fight.

Now CHIP, like Medicaid, and indeed Medicare and private insurance, is far from perfect as a way to deliver health care; more on that in a later post. But it appears that, since Medicaid is a program with federal matching funds (i.e., funds extracted from taxpayers nationwide), governors and state legislatures who are expanding coverage in their states via this channel are in fact raising the taxes of people who have no say in the decision, even if voting counts (as arguably it should not) as a “say.” This, once upon a time, was called taxation without representation, and I wonder whether an argument into the constitutionality of such a decision by a state government to have taxpayers in other states pay the freight for its programs has ever been mounted.

Cue Russell Long.



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