Delay in Healthy Families Waiver Approval a ‘Disgrace,’ Chronicle Says
With a full year having passed since California submitted its waiver request to the federal government to expand Healthy Families coverage to parents, many state officials are wondering "[w]hat on earth .. is holding up [approval of] the waiver," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says. California's waiver would expand the program to include about 300,000 parents who have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level -- $29,260 for a family of three. Although similar waivers were approved in less than four months for Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Wisconsin and Arizona, the editorial notes that HHS has yet to respond to California's request. HHS says it is still reviewing the plan, but the editorial says that some state officials are speculating that California is being "penalized" by the Bush administration for voting for Al Gore in last year's election or for having a Democratic governor. Regardless of the cause, the editorial calls the delay a "disgrace" that may force the state to return hundreds of millions of unspent federal CHIP program dollars. The editorial concludes, "It is way past time for [HHS Secretary Tommy] Thompson to respond to the state's request. At stake is nothing less than the health of hundreds of thousands of California's children and their parents" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/20).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.