8/29/07

Bush Screws Connecticut Children

The NewsTimes gives you most of the specifics on this one:
It's a move no one seems to like.

"It seems to go counter to what we're doing in Connecticut," state Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, the ranking Republican senator on the General Assembly's Public Health Committee, said Monday.

"We're trying to broaden the net. It's not just us -- it's what many states are trying to do. This sounds like moving in the opposite direction," Roraback said.

State Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, who is vice chairman of the Public Health Committee, said based on eligibility standards, the new Bush Administration rules could disqualify 4,000 to 8,000 children from HUSKY.

"This is a trap," she said. "Its effect will be for children to lose health insurance."

But it ain't just in Connecticut. Governor Spitzer is talking lawsuits in NY:
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Monday threatened to sue the federal government on charges that new regulations on children's health insurance violate an existing program that covers children from lower-income families.

At issue is New York's plan to expand coverage under the State Children's Health Insurance Program to children whose parents earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, from 250 percent currently.

But under new federal regulations that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published on August 17, states would have to cover 95 percent of poverty-level families before expanding access to middle-income children.

The rules also require children to have no health coverage for a year before they can join the state plans.

I hope Blumenthal will jump into a lawsuit if Spitzer decides to move forward on this. Though, I would have preferred it if we had a President that actually cared about the health and welfare of American children so that lawsuits like this - that waste taxpayer's time, resources and money - would never have to be considered.

Of course, none of this would ever be an issue if we had single payer universal healthcare.

[update] Joesaho at MLN points to this diary by Elliot Spitzer at HuffPo:

In the last year, we've seen public opinion building around the principle that no American should be denied health care. The president has answered that call by attempting to limit eligibility for the State Children's Health Insurance Program. SCHIP is a program that provides health care to children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance.

The president is trying to tell governors like me across the country that until we enroll 95 percent of those eligible for S-CHIP in households making under 200 percent of the poverty line ($41,300 for a family of four), we cannot provide health care to children in families making above 250 percent of the poverty line ($51,625 for a family of four).

Make no mistake. This is a poison pill meant to deny thousands of children health insurance.

While state governments make every effort to enroll as many eligible kids as possible, there will always be some individuals who fail to take advantage of this important program. In New York, we currently enroll 88 percent of children in families making below 200 percent of the poverty level. No state has yet cleared the 95 percent hurdle.

Since many states already enroll children at income thresholds above 250 percent of the poverty level, this means that these new regulations will have the effect of forcing children who already have coverage out of the program. Moreover, New York's historic effort to provide universal coverage for children through SCHIP will not be able to get off the ground because of this bureaucratic sleight of hand.

The president surely knows this. But then that begs the question: Why would he choose to pursue this path?

This isn't about fiscal restraint. The initiative is paid for through a tax on unhealthy cigarettes and other revenue sources. This isn't about good public policy. SCHIP has been wildly successful in providing health care for nearly seven million of our nation's vulnerable children.

The actions of the White House speak to what we've all known for far too long. When faced with the choice of covering thousands of children, they'll bring up the "big government" bogeyman and then stick their heads in the sand, ignoring the realities facing working families across the country.

2 comments:

fuzzyturtle said...

If we had a governor that actually finished college (and who knows maybe even went to law school?) she'd be following suit with Spitzer.

but no.

this is horrible.

On the heels of the Katrina anniversary, I paraphrase Kanye West.. "George Bush hates black people and CHILDREN"

Connecticut Man 1 said...

Rell may not want to battle bush on this, but I am pretty certain that Blumenthal has a track record of getting involved in Spitzer driven cases, especially when they are capable of drawing the media's attention. smirk Though, I'll presume that Blumenthal will likely do the right thing here just for the sake of doing the right thing.