Saturday, November 15, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

Extending health care to the children of those who make too much for Medicaid, yet not enough to afford access to health care should not be a budget buster, yet that is exactly what is happening in California. The state's Healthy Families program, which provides that insurance to families on the cusp, is about to close enrollments just as people across the state are losing their jobs because of the downward spiralling economy. The directors of the program say that the move is necessary because it is operating at a deficit that simply cannot be overcome without the cut-off, according to this article in the Sacramento Bee.

As California sheds jobs at an alarming rate, increasing the ranks of the uninsured, the state-run Healthy Families program for children is preparing to close enrollment for the first time in its 10-year history.

New enrollment in the program, which provides medical, dental and vision care to more than 900,000 children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but not enough to buy insurance, has averaged more than 27,000 a month during the past year.

That is an all-time high, and has already created a $17.2 million deficit in the program.

Lesley Cummings, executive director of the state's Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers Healthy Families, has told the board the only way to manage costs is to limit enrollment.

The issue is about to come up for a vote by the commission involved, but the new state Senate president pro tem, Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has urged that vote be postponed so that the new US President and Congress can address the issue of health care in general, and children's health care in particular. In other words, he wants the state to wait until a new S-CHIPs bill can be passed and signed into law.

That certainly makes sense, because part of the problem is that the federal S-CHIPs program will soon run out as a result of the mean-spirited Bush veto of the plan passed by the 110th Congress, and the even meaner-spirited refusal of many of the current GOP members to over-ride that veto. Here's what's affected: the federal government provides $2 for every $1 spent by states in such programs.

Unfortunately, that is only part of the problem. California still has to come up with that $1 to qualify for the federal funds, and right now, the state is on the brink of economic disaster. The governor has declared (yet again) a financial emergency and wants the state legislature to come up with more budget cuts to finally face the fact that in the near future the state will be broke.

Gov. Schwarzenegger is finally willing to admit that maybe raising taxes might be necessary, but he has taken the chicken's way out on the issue. He has suggested a hike in the state's sales tax, which hits the poor and middle class disproportionately hard. Well, that is a start, but from the wrong financial starting line.

What the governator and the state legislature (all of them, including the star-struck Dems who like that lobbyist money) have to realize that it's time those who've benefited most from the last fifteen years and more paid their dues. It's time that those who have counted on that tired refrain that raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations will cause immediate flight from the state be faced down. If they won't pay their fair share, then let them leave.

And we can always point out that their decisions to fight such a tax hike will have the kind of repercussions they probably haven't considered. Those housekeepers and nannies and gardeners that work in their homes and for whom they haven't provided insurance have kids, and those kids will have the kind of illnesses that are communicable, and their employees will be bringing those germs to work with them and sharing them liberally.

Maybe when those economically advantaged people have to take their own families to the ER in their tax-advantaged SUVs they will get the message.


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Blogger dave™© said...

A $17 million dollar deficit? Why don't they just institute a Google Cafeteria tax? I mean, really - these fucking tech companies blow through that for their fucking Xmas parties. Jesus fucking Christ...

6:22 AM  

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