CHIP: Oakland Tribune Criticizes Funding Forfeit
An editorial in the Oct. 30 Oakland Tribune takes the state government to task for "forfeit[ing] ... $592 million in federal funds earmarked for underwriting health insurance for hundreds of thousands of children from low-income families." The failure to receive federal CHIP money stemmed from a "lack of appropriate state action," the paper contends. "[E]mbarrassed state officials blame everyone but themselves," the editorial argues -- and there has been "enough mishandled responsibility here to cover everyone from the State House to the Governor's Mansion, both the latter's present and immediate past occupants." The Tribune attributes the loss of funding to a state plan that was "cumbersome, confusing and lacked creativity," with a 28-page, English-only application form that "discouraged" families from enrolling. The editorial also blames the failure on "a lack of enthusiasm and creativity on the part of state officials" who did little to help minority outreach efforts, and also says that many "observers" felt there was a "lack of political will on the part of the governor and the Legislature to embrace what they saw as a political hot potato, a large financial commitment to a program certain to grow in scope and cost." Despite the Legislature's last-minute attempt to save the federal money by setting aside a state contribution of $128 million from the tobacco settlement fund, the Tribune says it is "reprehensible that legislators who could find time at the 11th hour to pass and forward a bill to the governor that would financially reward their own ... could not manage to beat the deadline with a bill underwriting the well-being of California children." About Gov. Gray Davis' promise to set aside $128 million for the program in the January budget proposal, the editorial asks, "Where was the governor's leadership on this issue during the months leading up to the deadline for allocating and utilizing the federal funds?" The Tribune concludes, "It is traditional to complain of oppressive federal mandates for which Washington provides no funding. Here we have a situation where Washington provided the funds, and state officials could not muster either the energy or the will to take effective action. Washington did its part, the state did not" (Oakland Tribune, 10/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.