California, New York Governors Oppose New Kids’ Insurance Rules
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) on Wednesday sent a joint letter to President Bush criticizing new federal rules that would limit eligibility for the State Children's Health Insurance Program and restrict states' efforts to expand the program, the Ventura County Star reports.
Schwarzenegger and Spitzer said the rules "will set state programs back 40 years" and called for their withdrawal (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 8/30).
Under the new federal guidelines, states seeking to expand SCHIP eligibility also "must establish a minimum of a one-year period of uninsurance for individuals" in families with incomes greater than 250% of the federal poverty level to prevent them from switching from a private insurance plan to a public program.
The new guidelines state that before expanding SCHIP eligibility to children in families with incomes greater than 250% of the poverty level, states must demonstrate that they have "enrolled at least 95% of children in the state below 200% of the poverty level" who are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP.
Children in California currently are eligible if they have been uninsured for three months (California Healthline, 8/22).
The Legislature is seeking to expand eligibility for Healthy Families, California's version of SCHIP, to 300% of the poverty level. The expansion aims to cover the approximately 763,000 uninsured children in California.
Nationwide, 18 states use SCHIP to provide coverage to children from households with incomes above 250% of the poverty level (Ventura County Star, 8/30).
Summaries of an editorial and opinion piece regarding SCHIP appear below.
- Orange County Register: "The government has already allowed states to offer [SCHIP] to families above" the poverty level, but some states are seeking to expand eligibility, a Register editorial states. As a result, the "'free' (i.e. taxpayer-paid) insurance starts to 'crowd out' private insurance" because it "starts to look better to people who already have" private coverage, according to the editorial (Orange County Register, 8/26).
- Sacramento Bee: The new guidelines "will surely add to, not reduce, the numbers of uninsured children" in the U.S., a Bee editorial states. "This nation should not ignore millions of kids who go without regular doctor visits and medicines because their parents don't get insurance through their jobs and can't afford to buy it on their own," according to the editorial. "That's why the president should sign a bill that renews -- and expands -- SCHIP," the editorial concludes (Sacramento Bee, 8/30).