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NYT: Bush To Cripple Kids’ Free Health Care

From those defenders of children and the poor at the New York Times:

New Rules May Limit Health Care Program Aiding Children


Published: August 21, 2007

The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for New York, California and others to extend coverage to children in middle-income families.

Administration officials outlined the new standards in a letter sent to state health officials on Friday evening, in the middle of a monthlong Congressional recess. In interviews, they said the changes were intended to return the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children and to make sure the program did not become a substitute for private health coverage.

After learning of the new policy, some state officials said yesterday that it could cripple their efforts to cover more children and would impose standards that could not be met.

“We are horrified at the new federal policy,” said Ann Clemency Kohler, deputy commissioner of human services in New Jersey. “It will cause havoc with our program and could jeopardize coverage for thousands of children.”

Stan Rosenstein, the Medicaid director in California, said the new policy was “highly restrictive, much more restrictive than what we want to do.”

The poverty level for a family of four is set by the federal government at $20,650 in annual income. Many states have received federal permission to cover children with family incomes exceeding twice the poverty level — $41,300 for a family of four. In New York, which covers children up to 250 percent of the poverty level, the Legislature has passed a bill that would raise the limit to 400 percent— $82,600 for a family of four — but the change is subject to federal approval.

California wants to increase its income limit to 300 percent of the poverty level, from 250 percent. Pennsylvania recently raised its limit to 300 percent, from 200 percent. New Jersey has had a limit of 350 percent for more than five years…

The administration’s new policy is explained in a letter that was sent about 7:30 p.m. on Friday to state health officials from Dennis G. Smith, the director of the federal Center for Medicaid and State Operations. The policy would continue indefinitely, though Democrats in Congress could try to override it…

In his letter, Mr. Smith set a high standard for states that want to raise eligibility for the child health program above 250 percent of the poverty level.

Before making such a change, Mr. Smith wrote, states must demonstrate that they have “enrolled at least 95 percent of children in the state below 200 percent of the federal poverty level” who are eligible for either Medicaid or the child health program.

Deborah S. Bachrach, a deputy commissioner in the New York State Health Department, said, “No state in the nation has a participation rate of 95 percent.” …

The stalwarts at the Washington Post, always following the New York Times’s lead began their exegesis on this crime against humanity this way:

New Bush Policies Limit Reach of Child Insurance Plan

By Christopher Lee
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A04

The Bush administration, engaged in a battle with Congress over whether a popular children’s health insurance program should be expanded, has announced new policies that will make it harder for states to insure all but the lowest-income children

And not to be outdone, here is the view of the Associated Press:

New Guidelines for Children’s Health

By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON —  Many children who attempt to enroll in a popular children’s health insurance program will have to be uninsured for at least a year before they’ll be allowed to participate, the Bush administration has informed state health officials…

Imagine the “children” (up to 25 years of age) from a poor family with an income of only $82,00 being denied health care from money out of your pocket.

It’s heart-breaking.

And the real joke is that these new Bush restrictions are nothing. The states only have to claim that they have enrolled 95 percent of the “children” in the state (up to 25 years of age)  under the 200 percent poverty level first.

It’s just a matter of making sure that all those poor families that are only making $41,000 get your tax money first. You know, the desperately poor.

Note how both The Times, the Post and the AP all manage to describe the program as “popular” in their ledes.

I have to say I had never heard of this program before. And I suspect most people, apart from the wards of the Democrat party, have not either.

But when was giving away something for free ever unpopular? Except with those who are paying for it.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, August 21st, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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