April 19, 2007
Fund CHIP fully or lose money

I've spilled plenty of electronic ink arguing for a full restoration of CHIP funding in Texas. Among the many reasons for this is the fact that not doing so has cost Texas millions of dollars in federal matching funds. If the Lege fails again, that failure will be magnified. The CPPP explains why:

Between 2000-2006, Texas gave up over $900 million in federal CHIP dollars. Congress had designated these dollars for Texas, but because we did not spend them, they went to other states. Congress is now reauthorizing the SCHIP Block Grant, and will write new rules governing how much federal matching money Texas can receive for CHIP in the next decade. The good news for Texas is that Congress is proposing substantial new CHIP funding, designed to allow states enroll uninsured children who meet CHIP qualifications but are currently not enrolled. The bad news for Texas is that Congress is proposing to determine a state's CHIP allocation based on how much a state is spending on CHIP in federal fiscal year (FFY) 2009. The Texas legislature must move quickly to remove barriers to CHIP enrollment growth by providing for 12-month coverage. Otherwise, our federal allocation will be permanently reduced.

The whole story is here (PDF). That article, which is short and easy to read, also swats down some of the lame arguments for a six-month enrollment period - as with every other aspect of cutting CHIP, that policy costs Texas money in the long run. Supporting CHIP isn't just the compassionate thing to do, it's the fiscally prudent thing to do. Will the joint committee see it that way? It's up to Sylvester Turner now. Stay tuned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 19, 2007 to Budget ballyhoo