Way back in those crazy, innocent days right after Joe Straus was elected Speaker, some of us had the silly idea that this might portend better legislation making it through the House. You know, serious policy stuff that actually benefits people, that sort of thing. Well, we’re still waiting for that to happen, but if it does, one place where a real difference can be made is with CHIP. Rep. Garnet Coleman is at the forefront of that, as he’s been for the past few sessions. From his office:
I will lay out legislation in the Health and Human Services Committee which will restore CHIP to its intended levels, and restore health coverage for hundreds of thousands of children in Texas. Representative Patrick Rose, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, has also invited me to sit in the committee to hear testimony regarding the 25 CHIP and Medicaid bills which will be heard.
My legislation, HB 2962, will restore CHIP to pre-2003 levels by removing unnecessary barriers which stand in the way of Texas children. It will remove the assets test, allow deductions beyond those for child care, and make it easier to renew. HB 2962 will also eliminate in person interview requirements at renewal, and use joint applications and supplemental forms for Medicaid and CHIP. Additionally, it will keep the once-a-year applications, making it easier for both working families and an already overwhelmed system.
The fight to fully restore CHIP will continue until our state laws match federal guidelines to ensure every eligible child is enrolled in CHIP. HB 2962 takes full advantage of an opportunity from the federal government to expand state CHIP coverage to include children from families earning up to 300 percent above the federal poverty level. It also includes a buy in option, at no cost to the state, for children from families with a net income up to 400 percent above the federal poverty level.
Governor Perry has stated that he does not favor the increase in eligibility, and that we must focus on enrolling children currently eligible but not enrolled in the program. We can and must do both. My goal is to remove the bureaucratic hurdles that keep eligible children from receiving health care.
I’ll note again the disparate treatment given to families who need health insurance for their children and the bureaucratic gauntlet they have to run to prove they really need it, and to border law enforcement officials under Operation Border Star, where money is given out with no apparent requirement to demonstrate that it was put to good use. Funny how our government works, isn’t it?
Anyway, I feel pretty confident this will pass the House, or at least that something like this will pass the House. I’m less confident about the Senate, but it could happen. And if it does, I am totally confident that Governor Perry will veto it, because doing so will play well with the five percent or so of Texas’ population that he cares about, that being the GOP primary electorate. Maybe in 2011, with a different Governor, we can make this happen. Until then, we have to keep pushing for it.