Leading up to the June 29
A June 17 “ABC World News” story promoted a dramatic expansion of federal funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
“Child advocates believe this problem could be fixed if the federal government shells out $50 billion over the next five years. But, that is 10 times what the Bush administration wants to spend,” said ABC correspondent Dan Harris, while an onscreen graph displayed the difference. “And while the politicians debate, kids and their parents are suffering.”
The unbalanced story relied on a liberal “child advocate” who is a longtime activist for more taxpayer-funded care, as well as several emotional stories about sick children. Viewers didn’t get the whole story, as Harris misled the audience about how much money Americans already spend on SCHIP.
Harris compared the “child advocates’” $50 billion recommendation with $5 billion from the Bush administration. But that $5 billion is just the increase the Bush administration has proposed for SCHIP over the next five years.
Harris’ misleading report left out the fact that the Bush administration is advocating spending $34 billion total over the next five years on the government program. The $50-billion expansion passed in the Senate and by a House subcommittee – which ABC’s Harris made a case for – would increase the program to $79 billion over the next five years.
The only opposition to this drastic increase was Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt. “The question isn’t should children be insured,” Leavitt said. “They need to be insured. The question, ‘What is the vehicle?’ Having the SCHIP program become the engine that pulls the train of government-run health care isn’t the way to go about it.”
However, the report immediately countered Leavitt’s statement with Ron Pollack, executive director of the liberal pro-government-health-care organization Families USA.
“To say that is a government takeover of the health care system is a disgrace,” Pollack said, as a collage of children with emotive expressions rotated on the TV screen. “What this debate is about is to provide a safety net for children and families who simply can’t afford coverage on their own.” However, Pollack didn’t explain the total cost of such a “safety net” and who would finance it.
Casting the issue as a no-brainer, Harris included unfortunate examples of families whose children had health problems. He didn’t include any experts who could have explained the impact on all taxpayers’ families if taxes were raised to pay for it.
He told the tale of one family “cutting out birthday presents and cutting back on groceries.” Adam and Diane Harrison of
This wasn’t the first time Dan Harris has pushed for more taxpayer-funded health mandates. Earlier this month, he filed another story about