CHIP Restored? Not So Much

Posted in 80th Legislature, The Budget, Health Care at 11:06 am by wcnews

There was diary at BOR yesterday touting the fact that a bill that passed out of the House Human Services Committee has restored CHIP funding. It leaves the impression that all is good and that two Craddick D’s or Democrats for “Reform”, Rep. Patrick Rose and Rep. Sylvester Turner, are the ones responsible for the restoration.

The main problem with the diary is that it leaves two false impressions. First that this bill completely restores ALL funding taken away over the past two session. Second that this issue is resolved, and this bill, in this form will become law, so there’s no need to worry anymore about CHIP. But as a commenter named Joe points out this is only a lot of bluster and nothing has been accomplished yet.

Your post and Turner’s press release both proclaim that “CHIP FUNDING IS RESOTRED”.

CHIP funding is not restored, the bill hasn’t been passed out of the House and it hasn’t been passed out of the Senate (good luck with that). Turner allowed a Republican (who voted for 2292 in 2003) to write his bill for him and in turn give him the credit.

Credit is nice to have, but by itself it’s not good enough. This new bill isn’t good enough for our party, it’s not good enough for our state, and most importantly it’s not good enough for the 200,000+ children that have lost insurance since Tom Craddick, Rep. John Davis, and the Craddick-D enabled Republicans allowed drastic cuts to happen under their watch.

You and Turner and the co-authors of this bill should be more concerned with the content of the bill than with the name of the person that makes it into the papers.

The HChron adds this article to the conversation, House panel backs CHIP expansion bill. That’s is about right, the access to chip has been expanded. It has not been restored to what it was in 2003. The assets tests has been “revamped” and not elimintated.

[Rep. John Davis, R-Houston] earlier had offered his own proposal to ease lingering CHIP cutbacks made during a $10 billion revenue shortfall in 2003. The revamp reflects elements of his bill, including retaining, but easing, the assets test rather than eliminating it. The new test would allow families to own cars with more value and have more cash.

This bill as it currently stands, faces a very shaky future in the Senate.

The same point has been cited by two Senate leaders, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, Finance Committee chairman. Gov. Rick Perry also supports six-month eligibility, although his spokeswoman said he would look at the bill if it arrives at his desk.

(Here’s Kuff’s logical take down of the month enrollment period:

‘ll ask again: How often do you re-enroll in your own health insurance? I’ll bet it’s every year, not biannually. Why is that? Because it’s easier to remember, because it’s less hassle, and because that’s just the way most things work. How often do you pay your property tax, or register your car, or pay your civic association or professional organization dues? Name me one thing that most people do that has to be re-upped every six months. I can’t think of anything for myself.

The argument for biannual enrollments are shortsighted, illogical, and pennywise. So what if a few kids get a couple extra months of eligibility? I guarantee that will cost a lot less than the emergency room visits for kids who lost eligibility to red tape cost the counties. Prove me wrong about that and I’ll back off. I bet you can’t. )

Ogden reiterated his concern Thursday about Texas looking at expanding CHIP when it isn’t legally required to do so, while it faces big costs for services it must provide, including Medicaid. He said that “is not a prudent way to budget.”

Rep. Garnet Coleman calls it as he sees it.

Criticism of the bill also came from the Democratic side, with Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, saying the assets test should be eliminated and that lawmakers should address red tape that has cost eligible children coverage.

“This bill looks good on the surface, but in operation, it still denies our children access to health coverage,” Coleman said. “This is not a policy compromise, it’s political cover.”

And the advocates, on each side chime in.

Barbara Best, Texas executive director of Children’s Defense Fund, said she would like to see the assets test eliminated, but she’s pleased overall.

“All in all, this is a very good bill that will cover more children,” she said. “We’re pleased with the bipartisan support in the House, and now we need to work on the Senate.”

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility applauded Parker’s vote against the measure as “a rare act of political courage.”

It’s better then doing nothing says the children’s advocate and the TPPF-funded “wing-nutters” praise the only person to vote against it in committee.

Despite all of that what this is, so far, is an attempt by the Craddick D’s to give themselves some, as Rep. Coleman says, “political cover”. They will try and use this vote, on a compromise that takes some of the harshness out of the cuts from four years ago, to show primary voters how effective they were. In reality this bill is already a compromise and will only get more compromised as the sausage is made. It’s best to wait to make a final judgment on how effective they’ve been until seeing the final product and let’s hope primary voters do too.

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