More Sound And Fury, CHIP Edition

Posted in Health Care, The Budget, 80th Legislature, Around The State at 10:59 am by wcnews

Exactly what the ultimate outcome will be from what happened yesterday - with the House passing the partial restoration of CHIP that was taken away four years ago - nobody, at this time, knows for sure. It will either be the beginning of a restoration process that would, hopefully, end with the full restoration next session. More than likely it was a “gift” given as retribution to a Democrat for being loyal to a Republican Speaker, and insuring his reelection. Oh, and that Speaker knows it will not survive in it’s current form in the Senate, and will not use any of his power to try and help out his loyal Democrat(s):

This entire exercise may have been meaningless anyway. This was the number one priority for Turner and the Craddick Ds. Turner told Craddick that it wouldn’t be enough for this bill just to pass the House, that he wanted Craddick to go to bat for the bill in the Senate, which doesn’t like the restoration of twelve months of eligibility. Turner may have felt he had Craddick’s support-after all, Craddick wouldn’t be speaker without him and the other Craddick Ds-but Craddick insisted in a heated meeting with the Craddick Ds that he had promised only to facilitate passage through the House and make it possible for Turner to argue for his bill in the Senate. (Yeah, those House members have a lot of stroke in the Senate.) This scenario was related to me by another of the Craddick Ds, and if it is true, I would say that the Craddick Ds have been had.

Thanks to Kuff for that link and he has much, much more analysis on this, including comments from Williamson County’s own Rep. Dan Gattis:

One to highlight, from the Statesman blog, concerns an argument made by Rep. Gattis in support of a different amendment:

Gattis argued that it’s not fair to extend the eligibility period for CHIP, a program for working Texans who cannot afford private health insurance, when families on Medicaid — “the oldest and sickest and poorest among us” — have to apply every six months. His proposed amendment, modified by Frank Corte, R-San Antonio, to allow families to stay enrolled for a year and then after that require them to reapply every six months, failed 91-49.

I agree, that’s not fair. Of course, I’d say the solution is to make the Medicaid process an annual one instead of making CHIP biannual.

And check our former Rep. Glen Maxey’s thoughts on this, he was one of the architects of CHIP in 1999. As well as what Rep. Eddie Rodriguez has to say about this:

Today, Representative Rodriguez voted to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to add thousands of children.

The passage of HB 109 restores the twelve months of continuous coverage, increases the allowable family assets, and eliminates the 90 day wait period for health coverage which was an additional barrier to enrollment. In 2003, to save money, the Republican leadership made policy changes, such as complicated enrollment, narrowed eligibility, and decreased benefits, so CHIP would cover fewer children and provide less care. Since that time, CHIP enrollment has been dropping every month.

“Making more children eligible for CHIP is not only socially responsible but is also fiscally responsible,” said Rodriguez. “Texas children who do not have health insurance are currently being served at our emergency rooms at the expense of taxpayers.”

A nationally-recognized economist has calculated that for every $1 in state funds cut in CHIP and Medicaid, Texas’ businesses pay out-of-pocket increases in taxes and insurance, and each Texan’s health insurance premiums increase by $1.34. Additionally, statistic show that uninsured children are 25 percent more likely to miss school, and Texas school districts lose $4 million per day in state funding because of absenteeism. Reducing the number of uninsured kids helps control our local school taxes.

“If we continue to ignore the health care of Texas children, then we run the risk of failing an entire generation of Texas kids,” said Rodriguez. “Texas is in the disturbing position of leading the nation with 1.4 million children who do not have health insurance.”

“Our goal should be to provide quality affordable health care for our children,” said Rodriguez. “It is clear that making more children eligible for health insurance is the right investment for today and will reap a better tomorrow.”

Rodriguez noted, “while we made progress, I’m disappointed by the House leadership’s failure to adopt an offered amendment to fully restore CHIP, thereby adding over 200,000 kids back into the program. It’s heartbreaking to deny any eligible child access to health insurance.”

Chances are very good because of Dewhursts being for the 6 month renewal and the 90 day waiting list, and Craddick’s unwillingness to support his Democratic loyalists, those provisions will be stripped in the Senate and yesterday’s debate was nothing more than, “..a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

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