August 30, 2007
SPITZER'S GOOD STAND
|We'll smile too if Spitzer expands health coverage for New York's kids|
Despite bipartisan Congressional support for expanding SCHIP to cover more uninsured children, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) announced on August 17 that states seeking waivers to implement a higher-income ceiling for SCHIP (currently 200 percent of the poverty line) would have to show that they have already enrolled 95 percent of eligible children—a ridiculously high number that states say would be near impossible to reach, though New York, for instance, insures 88 percent of those who fit the current criteria.
The reason for CMS's petty rule, you might have heard, is that the Bush administration fears that this program could pave the way for universal health care.
SCHIP now covers about 4.1 million low and moderate-income children across the U.S. If a new federal expansion—separate from state waivers— is signed it would allow about two million uninsured kids to get health care through the federally funded, state-run program. And the Early Treatment for HIV/AIDS Act (ETHA) is tacked onto the SCHIP legislation, so if all goes according to plan, if SCHIP passes, ETHA passes.But states such as New York want to take SCHIP a step further, and CMS's new directive isn't stopping Spitzer and others like neighboring Gov. Jon Corzine from moving forward with their plans to insure more children. Spitzer's plan would make health insurance available to close to 400,000 children, anyone who is 400 percent above the poverty line.
"The President should invest in the health of America's children and allow states like New York, and nearly 20 others, to implement programs that will help ensure that more and more children receive the healthy beginning they deserve," Spitzer said in a statement. He told the New York Times Tuesday if federal officials "come back to us and refuse to budge from the positions they've taken, then we will sue." The state would sue on the ground that the rules contradict the provisions of the federal law, adding that they were imposed without the proper notice or comment period required by federal law. He said that the state "will not stand idly by when tens of thousands of New York state kids cannot get the health insurance they deserve."