The State Health and Human Services Commission is considering disqualifying families with more than $5,000 in liquid assetts from the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is a program that provides health insurance to children in low income families. Many predict that will mean thousands more uninsured children in Texas. This comes at a time when Texas is already last in the nation for insuring kids.
Greg Bruce, Division Director at University Medical Center says, "During the last legislative session, legislators were faced with some very tough choices coming up with a budget that worked." One of those choices meant a cut in funding for CHIP.
Already more than 100,000 children have been dropped from the program since September. They're children who may have to forego routine care and resort to the emergency room in dire situations with no way to pay for it. Bruce explains that effects taxpayers right here in Lubbock, "In the case of a county hospital, a lot of the cost burden is shifted to the county taxpayers. So, I think the state has shifted the burden from the state level to the local taxpayers."
Texas Comptroller, Carole Keeton Strayhorn has spoken out in strong opposition to this latest CHIP proposal. "Children are our most prescious resource and these children don't just disappear. They turn up in emergency rooms, trauma centers and my true bottom line is a true fiscal conservative bottom line."
Fiscally, Strayhorn believes preventative medicine is the key to saving money and that preventive medicine will not be obtained if families don't have the insurance to pay for it. She blames the bulk of the problem on our state's current administration, saysing "This administration has been abdicating its responsibilities in health care and education and when we ignore those state challenges we're creating local crisis for the good citizens of Lubbock County."
Though all citizens will likey see their taxes go up, it's the children of the working poor who will suffer most. Strayhorn says, "If you're working poor in Texas, and are saving for your child's education you have as much as $5000 in assets, we're going to drop you off the CHIP role. That's unconsionable."
Strayhorn is dissappointed in Governor Perry's management of the state's budget. She says the funds are there to make up for cuts in CHIP and Medicare. Here in Lubbock, 1,100 kids have been dropped from the CHIP program since September. That's 22% higher than the state average. Now, 3,600 Lubbock children are enrolled in CHIP, just months ago that number stood at 4,700.