You'd think that if John Davis could figure out that CHIP enrollment needs to be done on an annual basis as it was before its 2003 disembowelment that anyone could figure it out, but you would be wrong.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said they don't like the idea of lengthening the enrollment period for the Children's Health Insurance Program from six months to one year.
"We want children who are eligible for CHIP to be on CHIP," Dewhurst said, adding that he is willing to ease some of the restrictions imposed four year ago.
But lengthening the enrollment period could be a problem, he added.
"The problem with the 12 months is you're putting children on CHIP that technically aren't eligible," because of changing family finances, he said.
"I think a lot of people, as I travel around the state, say, 'What's so hard about filling out one number on an application every six months?' "
The argument for biannual enrollments are shortsighted, illogical, and pennywise. So what if a few kids get a couple extra months of eligibility? I guarantee that will cost a lot less than the emergency room visits for kids who lost eligibility to red tape cost the counties. Prove me wrong about that and I'll back off. I bet you can't.
Turns out that CHIP isn't the only thing that Texas has been penurious about, to its ultimate detriment:
The fate of the CHIP expansion also may be affected by an unrelated federal lawsuit over Medicaid that is expected to dump additional health care expenses on the state this spring.
The Medicaid suit could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars if, as expected, U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice forces Texas to finally comply with an 11-year-old agreement to expand health care to thousands of other low-income children.
"I'm told a decision will be coming out in April, and I'm trying to ascertain what the effect of this type of decision will be fiscally on the state of Texas," Dewhurst said.
Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Green-ville, said he has heard estimates as high as $5 billion a year if Justice grants all of the requests by the plaintiffs' attorney in the class action case known as Frew v. Albert Hawkins, Health and Human Services Commissioner.
Texas lost its latest effort to avoid compliance when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a state appeal in January of the Frew case. Justice has scheduled an April 9 hearing and is expected to order the state to improve funding for children's Medicaid.