Sunday, November 18, 2007

SCHIP Fallout

When the 110th Congress failed to override the president's veto of the SCHIP bill, there were bound to be consequences. California is now facing those consequences in a big way, and in the face of a $10 billion dollar deficit for the next fiscal year, which compounds the problem. From today's Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared 2007 the "year of health care reform" in California, but thousands of children could actually lose insurance coverage in the coming months.

Locally financed children's programs are running out of money, a hoped-for increase in federal funding has not materialized, and the state is facing a $10 billion budget deficit. ...

Children's advocates say that without interim funding for children's coverage, at least 55,000 children now covered by Children's Health Initiatives in 25 counties will lose their coverage over the next two years because the programs are running out of money.

And an impasse between Congress and the Bush administration in reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program is imperiling funding for California's Healthy Families program for poor children.

The panel that manages the Healthy Families program has adopted rules to allow the state to create a waiting list and to remove some of the 1.1 million kids on the rolls – possibly 60,000 each month – if the logjam is not broken.

Children's Health Initiatives such as the program in Solano County have already stopped enrolling children because their money is running out.

"We're actually taking a step backward," said Jacque McLaughlin, director of the Solano Coalition for Children's Health and co-chair of the state's Children's Health Initiatives.

California's governor and legislature is busy trying to put together a compromise on health coverage for the uninsured in the state which will then be placed on the ballot as an initiative. Even if they are successful any such program will not take effect until 2010, which means that poor and lower-middle class children will be without health insurance and, practically speaking, without health care for at least two years, all because Idiot One has an ideological distaste for what Congress worked out.

California is certainly not the only state which faces such a crisis, even if it is a large state with a large poor population. As the economy falters because of a slowing economy undercut further by a loss of property tax revenue in the wake of the mortgage disaster, other states will be hard pressed to provide even the most basic of health care, including vaccinations, vision and hearing exams, and dental care.

While there's enough blame to pass around, voters should be provided with a list of Senators who decided it was easier to go along with George then to take care of their own consituents. Let the voters make it clear to candidates now what they expect their representatives to be doing in Washington. Turn up the heat on the incumbents and their opposition. That, short of pitchforks and hot tar, appears to be the only remedy we have at the present.



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