In yesterday's Fort-Worth Star-Telegram
writer Mitch Mitchell provided excellent coverage of the SCHIP scandal in Texas. We are second only to California in the amount of federal health-insurance assistance for children that we've lost. By refusing to allocate $$ for the health needs of uninsured kids, the state loses matching funds from Washington, to the tune of $618 million. Granted, we've had budget deficit to deal with recently
, but (A) that doesn't explain our failure to take advantage of the availability of these funds when the state was flush, and (B) even in the current budgetary crisis mode, we are spending billions and billions on other things, just not on the health needs of poor children. Quotes from two legislators pretty well sums up the mindset in Austin:
State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, said legislators fought hard to minimize the budget crisis's negative effect.
"If money were available to match the federal dollars in the health care arena, I believe we would draw down those available federal dollars," said Nelson, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. "But we have other services, like education, that we had to fund."
But state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said that if lawmakers wanted the state to get more federal CHIP funding, they wouldn't have cut the program.
"This is a philosophical difference," said Coleman, a member of the House Public Health Committee. "These folks have chosen to cut children rather than cut other things, and it's not a priority for them. The reason it's not a priority is because poor children don't make campaign contributions and poor children don't vote. This is not rocket science. You either want to cover kids or you don't."
Thanks to the Kaiser Family Foundation for this lead. Following health policy developments has never been easier than it is by subscribing (for free) for the KFF updates. Click here
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