[June 30, 2007 @ 8:21 am] David Catron

Kimberly Strassel reports, in the WSJ, that congressional Republicans are at long last girding for battle with the Democrats over the future of U.S. health care:

The setting is the upcoming debate over the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or Schip, a brawl that could well determine the future direction of U.S. health care.

And she correctly observes that it’s none too soon for the Republicans to join the fight on this issue:

If Republicans fail to meet the challenge with their own more compelling plan for market-based, consumer-driven reform, it may prove the beginning of the end of today’s private model.

Isn’t this overstating the case? Nope. The Democrats have every intention of using SCHIP as a Trojan horse to foist government-run health care on an unsuspecting public:

The nation still has little appetite for an abrupt shift to all-government care. So they’ve developed a craftier approach … slowly expanding the reach of existing government programs until they encompass the population.

This strategy is at the root of the nationwide effort by Democrats to divert SCHIP funds to adults and middle class children who manifestly aren’t “poor.” And they are combining this tactic with a determined effort to kill market-based reforms:

Democrats will argue that the only way to pay for SCHIP … is to gut Medicare Advantage and similar free-market reforms. See how clever? Swallow up ever more Americans into federal programs, banish any last vestiges of popular market plans, and voilà! It is Hillarycare!

For some time now, it has appeared as though the Republicans were willing to surrender without a fight on health care reform. Let’s hope they have finally decided to take the field on behalf of the free market.

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