NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 3, 2007

The clash over the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) is being fought largely between members of Congress from high-income states, such as Maryland, versus members from low-income states, such as South Dakota and Mississippi, which rank near the bottom in median household income, says MSNBC.


  • On the decisive Senate vote to push ahead with expansion of the S-CHIP program -- where both senators from a state voted for S-CHIP expansion -- they came from states with an average household income of nearly $50,000.
  • But where both senators from a state voted against S-CHIP expansion, they came from states with an average household income of under $42,000, including the lowest-income states such as Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.

There's another economic angle to the war between high- and low-income regions, says MSNBC:

  • Smokers, many of whom are low-income people, are the ones who would have paid the cost of S-CHIP expansion under the bill
  • The measure would raise the current 39-cent per pack cigarette tax to a dollar per pack, a 156 percent tax increase.

And while opponents of the bill realize cost disparities exist in high-income states such as New York and Maryland, it still does not justify the spending increase, say MSNBC.  According to House Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri, many federal programs face the problem of regional cost disparities.  But he said, "Do we want to go back and re-calibrate every single government program so that people who live in New York City get a lot more than people who live in Springfield, Missouri or Tampa, Florida?"

Source: Tom Curry, "War between the states over health insurance," MSNBC, October 2, 2007.

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