$82,000 for a family of four is not “poor,” or even the “working poor,” except perhaps in Manhattan. Could it be that the State and local taxes make these families the “working poor” and are more responsible than the “high cost of insurance” for the families’ perception that they can not afford health insurance?
Remember, CHIP was not designed to subsidize families whose children have special needs or catastrophic health costs.
The effect of expanding chip to cover more children (and their families, in some cases), is that other States will subsidize the States whose legislatures pass bills to expand CHIP coverage. I’ve heard many times that Texas is “losing Federal dollars.” Some of that money that we send to Washington in form of Federal Income Taxes goes to New York. See the Table from the first year of redistribution, 2000, here.
Here’s the AMA morning newsletter coverage of the movement to force the rest of us to subsidize the health insurance of people who make 4 times the poverty level:
Leading the news
Bush administration rejects New York’s request to rescind SCHIP limitations. In continuing coverage from previous briefings, the New York Times (9/8, B2, Pear) reported, “The Bush administration on Friday rejected a request from New York State to expand its [state] children’s health insurance program (SCHIP) to cover 70,000 more uninsured youngsters, including some from middle-income families.” The Times continued, “New York wanted to expand its program to cover children in families with incomes up to four times as much as the federal poverty level, or $82,600 for a family of four. The state’s current limit is 250 percent of the poverty level.” The Bush administration has argued that plans like New York’s “would divert resources from lower-income children and ‘crowd out’ private health insurance.”
The AP (9/8) added, “Kerry Weems, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that New York did not meet the 95% threshold, and noted that the new guidelines require New York to make sure that middle-income children have been uninsured for at least a year before allowing them into SCHIP.” New York wanted to decrease the waiting period to six months. The AP continued, “Democratic lawmakers will attempt to overturn the administration’s new guidelines in coming months as Congress considers renewing the children’s program for an additional five years.”
Pointing out that this decision could have implications for other states and future congressional action, the Los Angeles Times (9/8) noted, “The ruling by the Health and Human Services Department sent a clear signal that the administration intends to enforce a new policy aimed at refocusing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program on the children of the working poor.” Certainly, California would be affected because the state plans to “cover uninsured children in families that earn up to about $60,000 for a family of four,” which exceeds the administrations threshold of $50,000 for a family of four. The Times continued, “The children’s health insurance program covers about 6 million youths whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private coverage. It will expire Sept. 30 unless Congress and the president renew it or approve a temporary extension.” Should the administration prevail, several states “could be forced to drop hundreds of thousands from the rolls.”
According to Long Island’s Newsday (9/8, Evans), “Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-N.Y.) Friday threatened to sue the Bush administration to reverse its rejection of his proposed SCHIP health insurance program expansion, saying the rejection would leave too many children uncovered.” He added, “Today’s federal decision is a cruel blow to New York’s uninsured children, and to uninsured families across the country.” In addition, “The state’s top Republican, state senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick) called the rejection ‘an error in judgment,’ and vowed to put aside his ongoing feud with New York’s Democratic governor in an effort to reverse the federal decision.”
And, the Buffalo News (9/8, Zremski) added, “State officials had hoped to start enrolling those children in the program this month.” Now, that no longer seems possible. In an attempt to combat this decision, Governor Spitzer “plans to meet Monday with New York’s congressional delegation, where he will likely find plenty of support. On Friday, some 25 members of the delegation — all Democrats — sent a letter to federal officials asking them to rescind the strict limits they are putting on the child health program.”
Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan for uninsured Californians stymied. The New York Times (9/9, Sack) reported, “After losing much of August to a budget impasse, state lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) have been unable to reach agreement on a proposal to extend health coverage to all uninsured Californians.” Earlier this year, “Mr. Schwarzenegger proposed coverage for all 6.7 million uninsured Californians. Vowing that his state would lead the nation, the moderate Republican made his plan the centerpiece of a new ‘postpartisan’ politics.” However, while “polls indicate that Californians are fed up with the health care system,” they also seem concerned that taxes would have to be increased in order to pay for universal health coverage. If the various interest groups do not settle their differences regarding health coverage for the uninsured, the issue may have to be resolved by a special ballot.