CNN Glosses Over Failure of Universal Health Care

     Sometimes it’s all in the details, or the lack thereof.


     A news brief on “CNN Newsroom” Oct. 17 said that Hawaii’s universal health care program for children would be hit with the “budget ax.”


     The screen said “Hawaii’s Budget Ax” and anchor Heidi Collins reported that, “For the past seven months it’s been the only state in the nation to offer universal healthcare for children. Now that program is being dropped.”


     The state will stop funding the Keiki Care Plan, a basic health insurance program for some 2,000 children, beginning Nov. 1. The program was a public-private partnership with Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA), which will pay to cover the children through the end of 2008.


     But the brief didn’t go into detail about one of the main reasons why the program was being axed: abuse of the “free” system.

     A Hawaii state official said that families were “dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan,” according to the Associated Press.

     According to the Hawaii Reporter, the state administration was concerned about the Keiki Care Plan’s enrollment process because it didn’t make sure that children were ineligible for Medicaid and its superior benefits.

     "People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free … I don't believe that was the intent of the program," Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services, said to the AP.

      Dennis Smith commented on Hawaii’s situation on The Heritage Foundation’s “The Foundry” blog.

     “Does that sound familiar?” Smith asked. “That is precisely what Heritage warned against in last year’s debate on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Shifting the cost from the private sector to the public sector does not increase insurance rates, it, well, merely passes the cost around like a proverbial hot potato. Hawaii demonstrates the issue has become expansion of public benefit programs as a means of redistributing income rather than about making health care affordable.”

     Smith also pointed out that presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s proposal for universal coverage of children “has always been shaky for lack of specifics.”

     “How do mandates work if there are no penalties as he responded in the most recent debate? His home state of Hawaii and adopted state of Illinois demonstrate his proposals won’t work,” Smith said.