I was the lucky recipient of a seat at an informal roundtable discussion with Senator Casey today sponsored by my local Chamber of Commerce. Attending the roundtable were about 19 other business people from several industries, but representing the businesses of our county. Here is my recounting of the event today.
The roundtable was held in the historic King of Prussia Inn, which dates back to 1719. The really interesting factoid about this historic Inn is that it was actually *moved* in 2000 from its original location to the spot where it is today because of Route 202 road widening. The entry door to the room where the meeting was held was low enough that most had to duck to pass under it (not me). Senator Casey is quite tall and it looked like he was stepping into the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole when he entered the room. It’s hard to be dignified when you have to duck into a room but he carried it off fairly well.
Everyone stood up as Senator Casey entered and he was followed by his staff member, Ari Mittleman. Senator Casey sat at the table with all of us - it was a large rectangular heavy wooden table that almost filled the entire room. In the corner of the room stood a podium. To Senator Casey’s credit, he chose not to use the podium but instead sat at the table with all of us - making it a much more personal interaction.
This is what Bob Casey looked like at the beginning of the roundtable:
This is how he looked at the end –>
I was seated at the end of the table and Casey chose a seat in the middle with his back to the door. I’m not sure why one of the end seats of the table was not reserved for him.. sure seems he should have had a “head of the table” seat. Even if I don’t agree with Senator Casey, I will show him respect, even in my vocal disagreement with his policies and votes. I was actually seated fairly close to Senator Casey also, which made it much easier to be heard.
The attendees were mostly middle-aged men and there were four women including myself.
After at least a 15 minute monologue by Senator Casey, extolling his virtues as a freshman Senator, we *finally* got to ask our questions and I was the first *asker* out of the gate. I was getting ready to draw attention to the fact that he was using up our question time to mount a mini political campaign which is not why he was there, when he must have felt my sentiments because he wrapped it up (after saying the word *finally* three times I think).
Since Senator Casey had gone to great lengths to brag about his support of the Bush-vetoed SCHIP legislation, I felt it was appropriate to lead in with a pointed question about the fact that SCHIP would benefit mostly illegal alien children. He retorted that SCHIP would require “identification” to which I replied “you mean like a New York driver’s license maybe”? He didn’t much like my position because he seems to be really proud of trying to put through expensive legislation at taxpayer expense ($60 billion over five years to be exact) to benefit even MORE needy children to give them health insurance. Well that *sounds* like a really nice thing to do until you look at the details of the bill. It’s easy to say “I want health insurance for needy children” and sound like a nice, soft fluffy teddy bear of a guy and anyone who is against it is a big, mean child-hater. He took many opportunities to lambast President Bush. In fact I almost mistook him for a Pelosi/Reid robot. But I digress…
After our back and forth debate about SCHIP and illegal aliens (and he GOT the point that I do NOT want to see illegal aliens benefitting from this program on my American dime) we moved on to discuss the June Amnesty bill and he got quite defensive about his support of that bill. I retorted that amnesty had been tried in 1986 and it did not decrease illegal immigration because the enforcement part of that legislation was NEVER actually enforced so why should we believe that Congress was going to do any better this time around?
Apparently, Casey was really quite thrown by my questions but since he is about as animated as say.. Al Gore - it sure was hard to tell. He apologized for getting so “heated” but if that is his version of heated, he couldn’t boil a pot of water to save his life! Senator Casey sort of reminds me of a cobra - he is very still and intense and perhaps he will strike at you at some point but in my case, he never did although I am sure he wanted to say a lot more than he did.
I finally said that I thought others might have questions and that we could go around and around for a lot longer on the topic but shouldn’t in the limited time - so he took some other questions. One of the questions was about enforcement of hiring illegal aliens. Mr Paschall, the organizer of the roundtable, complained to Senator Casey that restrictions on using Social Security No-Match letters made it more difficult for employers to discover whether a new hire is a legal citizen yet the employer could still be penalized for hiring an illegal alien. Senator Casey didn’t have much to say on this although it seems he was sympathetic. Whether that will translate to any particular change in legislation I guess we will find out.
During this particular discussion, I interjected with my own question regarding the Basic Pilot Program (now called E-Verify) and pointed out that to use the Basic Pilot Program, an employer must first HIRE the person. So if the employee is discovered to be an illegal alien, the employer must then FIRE the person. That opens up employers to all sorts of risk not to mention that it is costly to hire people and then have to turn around and fire them. The “fired” employee, even if proven not to be a citizen, can become a thorn in that employer’s side by suing the employer for discrimination or some other trumped up charge, that “immigration advocates” like the Southern Poverty Law Center are only too happy to help the illegal aliens formulate. What is ironic is, with the system we have, it is MORE likely that a brown skinned Mexican looking person will NOT be hired in the first place if an employer is trying not to hire illegal aliens because the employer may want to avoid the risk of having to fire them if they are illegal. So the system is setup to actually encourage profiling. How stupid is that?
The roundtable adjourned and I was able to intercept Senator Casey one more time as he was on his way out the door. His demeanor was visibly uncomfortable although he was cordial to me. I told him I had more questions for him but we didn’t have time so he directed me to get his staffer’s card, which I did.
I don’t believe that I could ever change Senator Casey’s mind on these issues, but I certainly don’t have to give up on the guy. I will keep offering up my opinions and insights until he is up for re-election and then I can help work to bump him out and get a candidate in there who actually represents the interests of legal Pennsylvania citizens.
More on SCHIP
So here is my examination of the SCHIP legislation text. I am not taking this information from Numbers USA or using anyone else’s interpretation but my own. I wanted to know - well.. does SCHIP *really* demand that a recipient be a US Citizen?
First we come upon this section - which *looks* promising indeed:
SEC. 301. STATE OPTION TO REQUIRE CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS TO PRESENT SATISFACTORY DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE OF PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP OR NATIONALITY FOR PURPOSES OF ELIGIBILITY FOR MEDICAID.
But, it is contained within “Title III” which says:
TITLE III–ELIMINATION OF CERTAIN BARRIERS TO COVERAGE
Ok.. so. what exactly are the current “barriers” and what are they trying to eliminate exactly?
It opens with:
(a) In General- Section 1902(a)(46) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(46)) is amended–
(3) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:
So, I looked up Section 1902(a)(46) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(46)) and here is what the entire addition would look like if we follow their little puzzle:
Sec. 1902. [42 U.S.C. 1396a] (a) A State plan for medical assistance must—
(46) provide that information is requested and exchanged for purposes of income and eligibility verification in accordance with a State system which meets the requirements of section 1137 of this Act; AND
(A) at the option of the State and subject to section 1903(x), require that, with respect to an individual (other than an individual described in section 1903(x)(1)) who declares to be a citizen or national of the United States for purposes of establishing initial eligibility for medical assistance under this title (or, at State option, for purposes of renewing or redetermining such eligibility to the extent that such satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship or nationality has not yet been presented), there is presented satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship or nationality of the individual (using criteria determined by the State, which shall be no more restrictive than the criteria used by the Social Security Administration to determine citizenship, and which shall accept as such evidence a document issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe evidencing membership or enrollment in, or affiliation with, such tribe (such as a tribal enrollment card or certificate of degree of Indian blood, and, with respect to those federally recognized Indian tribes located within States having an international border whose membership includes individuals who are not citizens of the United States, such other forms of documentation (including tribal documentation, if appropriate) that the Secretary, after consulting with such tribes, determines to be satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship or nationality for purposes of satisfying the requirement of this subparagraph));’.
After trying to follow this logic through all the various references, I felt my eyes begin to bleed and I had the sense that, it really would be difficult to NOT qualify for “medical assistance” from Social Security but then it gets better. As if the current eligibility requirements are not quite convoluted enough to provide loopholes out the whazoo:
c) Conforming Amendments- Section 1903 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1396b) is amended–
In the case of an individual declaring to be a citizen or national of the United States with respect to whom a State requires the presentation of satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship or nationality under section 1902(a)(46)(B), the individual shall be provided at least the reasonable opportunity to present satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship or nationality under this subsection as is provided under clauses (i) and (ii) of section 1137(d)(4)(A) to an individual for the submittal to the State of evidence indicating a satisfactory immigration status.
Here is a list of those “eligible documents”. Now one of these sounds very promising and stern, when you consider NY Governor Eliot Spitzer’s decision to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens:
(iv) A valid State-issued driver’s license or other identity document described in section 274A(b)(1)(D) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, but only if the State issuing the license or such document requires proof of United States citizenship before issuance of such license or document or obtains a social security number from the applicant and verifies before certification that such number is valid and assigned to the applicant who is a citizen.
Funny thing is.. when I mentioned the NY Driver’s License to Senator Casey as a sarcastic remark about requiring identification, don’t you think someone who was supposedly heavily involved with this legislation might actually have been able to quote the above paragraph to me to shut me up? Why didn’t he? Because he *really doesn’t know the details of this bill*.
SCHIP goes on to include all of these documents as proof of citizenship (omitting the driver’s license paragraph which I cite above) :
(3)(A) In addition to the criteria established by the State for purposes of section 1902(a)(46)(B), a State shall deem presentation of the following documents to be `satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship or nationality’ (and shall not favor presentation of 1 type of document described over another):
(ii) Any document described in subparagraph (C) when presented with any document described in subparagraph (D).
`(iii) Any document described in subparagraph (E) if the requirements of that subparagraph are met.
`(B) The following are documents described in this subparagraph:
`(i) A United States passport.
`(ii) Form N-550 or N-570 (Certificate of Naturalization).
`(iii) Form N-560 or N-561 (Certificate of United States Citizenship).
`(v) Such other document as the Secretary may specify, by regulation, that provides proof of United States citizenship or nationality and that provides a reliable means of documentation of personal identity.
`(C) The following are documents described in this subparagraph:
`(i) A certificate of birth in the United States.
`(ii) Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350 (Certification of Birth Abroad).
`(iii) Form I-197 (United States Citizen Identification Card).
`(v) Such other document (not described in subparagraph (B)(iv)) as the Secretary may specify that provides proof of United States citizenship or nationality.
`(D) The following are documents described in this subparagraph:
`(i) Any identity document described in section 274A(b)(1)(D) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
`(ii) Any other documentation of personal identity of such other type as the Secretary finds, by regulation, provides a reliable means of identification.
`(E) A document described in this subparagraph is an affidavit of citizenship or identity, or both, which need not be notarized or witnessed, but only if the individual has been unable to acquire other satisfactory documentary evidence within the reasonable opportunity period established by the State, despite a good faith effort to do so. An individual shall be deemed unable to acquire such documentary evidence–
`(ii) if, after a timely request for such documentary evidence, it has not been received by the State or the individual within the reasonable opportunity period established by the State;
`(iii) if such documentary evidence cannot be acquired at a nominal cost to the individual; or
`(iv) in such additional situations as the Secretary may describe.
`(F)(i) A reference in this paragraph to a form includes a reference to any successor form.
`(ii) Any legible copy of a form described in this paragraph shall be accepted as if it were the original of such form.’.
Imagine for a minute, a non-English speaking immigrant coming to the local Social Security Office to see about getting insurance coverage for their children. How in the WORLD are they going to understand the ridiculous list of documentation that “qualifies”? They will depend on the local health department staff to sort it all out for them as well as numerous “immigrant advocacy” groups, who will “help” any “immigrant” navigate through this daunting path of “citizenship proof”. You can bet your bottom dollar there will be a huge increase in document fraud with those “copies” of forms that they allow. Basically our tax funded Health Departments need to bend over backward finding out if someone is a citizen, rather than the other way around and in the mean time, they cannot deny coverage while they are making a “reasonable opportunity”.
And this line makes me ask the following question:
Any other documentation of personal identity of such other type as the Secretary finds, by regulation, provides a reliable means of identification.
Does that mean they will accept the Mexican Matricular Consular Card as a “reliable means of identification” oh and maybe they will throw in their electric bill as proof of citizenship or maybe their Wells Fargo mortgage.
Yah.. real good identification check there..
More discussion by others on the true underbelly of SCHIP - the part that the Dems don’t want you to realize. From this link at the National Review:
Despite these problems, the political temptation to expand Medicaid and SCHIP into middle class entitlements is nearly irresistible. Today, according to the Government Accounting Office, over 40 states enroll children from families at 200% or higher of the federal poverty level, around $40,000 for a family of four. Seven states cover children in families at 300 percent or higher, about $60,000. (New Jersey tips the scales at 350 percent.)
This week, Congress is set to massively expand SCHIP without doing anything to help make private health insurance more affordable. Last Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill that increases federal SCHIP funding by $35 billion over five years; a family of four making over $80,000 would even be eligible for coverage. The House is expected to endorse even more spending.
The president has announced that he will veto any bill that includes over $5 billion in new funding as an unwarranted government takeover of health care. He’s right, and Congress can do much more to help the uninsured without breaking the bank.
The president has a better plan: creating an individual tax deduction up to $15,000, or an equivalent tax credit. Any individual could take advantage of the deduction, provided they purchased at least catastrophic health insurance. While expanding SCHIP funding would cover a few million uninsured at enormous cost to taxpayers, the administration predicts that fixing the tax code could lead up to 20 million uninsured to purchase private coverage without substantial new outlays.
If this was combined with an interstate market for health insurance, where consumers could shop for low-cost policies across state lines, Congress could add modest new SCHIP funding and fundamentally improve health care access for the uninsured.
Past experience has shown that expanding public programs is not a sustainable alternative to private insurance. Helping low-income uninsured children get access to public health insurance is a noble cause; but making good, private health insurance more affordable for all working families is a better one.
Here is an interesting study from 1996 time frame on SCHIP, Welfare and immigrant eligibility.The study found that only 100,000 “non-citizen immigrant children” would be barred because of their “recent arrival status”.
The biggest failing of SCHIP is not the more lenient “eligibility” requirements but the fact that we are moving ever closer to socialized medicine. Read a discussion on this area here.
One of the comments:
Three things are clear, however. The bill raises the eligibility criteria to an income of $82,000/year. Is that poor now? (Some say that covers 77% of all children in America.) Adults are eligible for the program. Is that protecting children? And there are considerable state incentives for getting families into the program. Won’t that cause states to pressure families to drop their children from civilian medical coverage to join in the government program, at our expense?
Oh and here is a great link to some very interesting factoids about SCHIP
Some tidbits from the link above:
The legislation passed by Congress takes this unfair system and makes it regressive. First, much of the new funding for SCHIP comes from a large increase in the cigarette tax. As Table 1 shows, people with incomes under 200 percent of the poverty level smoke at rates higher than those with incomes above 200 percent of the poverty level.21
So people like Senator Casey and other Democrats, don’t mind putting the burden of paying for SCHIP right back onto the backs of the people they are *supposed* to be helping. Why not stay out of their pockets and instead give them a tax break to pay for their own health insurance?
Senator Casey was adamant about dispelling the “propaganda” that he said many of the SCHIP opponents had spread to discredit it - one of those things being that a family earning $80,000 would not be eligible for SCHIP. But clearly, this document, linked above and found at nationalcenter.org, shows that it is indeed possible that a family earning over $80,000 could be eligible since the new cap for SCHIP would be changed to 400% of poverty level:
It is not inconceivable that a parent with one child with an income of $13,690 will be funding benefits for two children in a family of four with an income of $82,600. In short, SCHIP expansion would result in families whose income puts them in the bottom 15 percent of households funding benefits for children who are in families close to the top 25 percent of households.23
According to this article from The Heritage Foundation, families who qualify in th 400% range as “needy” families are viewed at the same time as “wealthy” by the IRS and subjected to AMT or Alternative Minimum Tax. This just doesn’t make sense and it shows how inefficient and clueless our Federal government and our Senators have become.
Here is another great resource about SCHIP that is non-partisan and can clarify the real truth from fiction - it seems most of the fiction is on the Democratic side of the aisle however.
Related blog resources on SCHIP