"Today's House vote is a harmful step toward a big government health care system. If Texas extends CHIP to families making more than $66,000 per year, what was originally a health insurance program for the working poor will morph into an expensive entitlement for the middle class.

"Exempting a family's primary vehicle from the asset test is especially offensive to hard-working taxpayers. Many higher-income families scrimp on their vehicles to pay for their children's insurance premiums, but now they will wind up paying to provide CHIP to kids from families with slightly lower incomes but newer and fancier cars. Especially as CHIP expands into higher income categories, we will find some of the $75,000 Cadillacs that Rep. Charlie Howard referenced.

"The buy-in option for families making more than $66,000 will crowd out the private insurance market, making health insurance less accessible and more expensive to families that do not qualify for CHIP.

"If this bill were to become law, it will do long-term harm to our state's budget and health insurance market, and weaken our state's commitment to personal responsibility. We urge the Senate to reject these changes."

The Honorable Talmadge Heflin is Director of the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Heflin served 11 terms in the Texas House of Representatives and chaired the House Appropriations Committee in 2003, leading the Texas Legislature's successful efforts to close a $10 billion budget deficit without a tax increase.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas.

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