Demand Full Restoration Of CHIP

Posted in 80th Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, Had Enough Yet?, Health Care, The Budget at 3:57 pm by wcnews

Today Rep. Garnet Coleman (D- Houston) penned an editorial, We must close all loopholes that deny CHIP to children. In it he tells us that the bill (HB 109) that’s currently making it’s way through the legislature will make things better but does not fully restore CHIP.

At the hearing, families and CHIP activists came together to advocate for the full restoration of CHIP. The dozens of bills we authored were heard, and our legislation — after being compromised to overcome the unfortunate political barriers — passed out of committee and out of the Texas House in the form of Rep. Sylvester Turner’s HB 109.

The legislation that finally passed the House — which Dewhurst partially supports — is good because it fixes some of the statutory barriers. However, it fails to address all of the restrictive barriers to the program. Most importantly, it doesn’t address the administrative barriers — the ones Devante and others faced — that unfairly deny children CHIP coverage.

Let me tell you why.

Administrative directives are policies that govern the administration of CHIP. These policies are not state laws, which must be established by the Texas Legislature, and they are not commission rules, which must be officially adopted by the commission. These policies may be created or changed at any time by the direction of HHSC Commissioner Albert Hawkins or other high-ranking administrators.

Policy changes made by the HHSC can happen at any time without notice to the Legislature — it really can be done as easily as you turn a faucet on or off. Those changes are also issued with minimum notice to CHIP recipients; in fact, only two days’ notice was given to many of the thousands of families whose children lost CHIP coverage this month. What happens to the children who had doctor appointments this week? How can they be expected to find new health coverage in two days time?

We must encourage HHSC to adopt policies and issue administrative directives that are inclusive, and not exclusive, for providing CHIP coverage for our children.

Later he talks of how “the default policy is to kick a child off CHIP instead of keeping them on”. That becomes apparent when you read this HChron Op-Ed from earlier in the week from a Mother whose child was one of those children that lost CHIP because of a loophole, Medicaid and CHIP can mean child’s life or death.

I don’t want to think my son died in vain.

I urge legislators to reform CHIP and Medicaid so that instead of reapplying every six months, families apply once a year, just as we file taxes once a year. Children should also be able to receive coverage immediately without having to wait 90 days.

The delays and errors in the government’s application process and the requirement of reapplying every six months cost me my child’s life.

If Devante had 12-month continuous eligibility, he would not have gone four months without coverage and suffered the way he did.

Only parents who have had to watch their kids sit on the sidelines of normal childhood life or see the fear in their child’s eyes as he or she is dying can understand my pain.

But I ask all of you to listen to my plea, stand up, and demand full restoration of CHIP and Medicaid with 12 months continuous eligibility.

It is too late for my son, but millions of Texas children will have a chance at a healthy future if we stand up now for children’s health care.

That makes me want to say a bunch of bad things, but I won’t. As a matter of human dignity it’s time to do the right thing and demand full restoration of CHIP, I do!

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