Archive for Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sebelius urges insurance funding for kids

SCHIP provides health coverage at low cost

September 8, 2007

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Friday urged Congress to approve funding for a children's health insurance program and override President Bush if he follows through on a veto threat.

Flanked by fifth-graders at Lowman Hill Elementary, Sebelius said, "These kids are not going to be able to learn unless they are healthy and ready to go to school."

At the center of the battle is funding of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which was started in 1997 and insures 6.6 million children nationwide.

SCHIP is designed to provide low-cost coverage of children of working families that make too much to be eligible for Medicaid but too little to purchase private insurance.

In Kansas, the program goes under the name HealthWave and covers 35,000 children.

Congress and Bush are at loggerheads over refinancing the program.

The House has approved legislation to increase funding by $50 million during the next five years, while the Senate has recommended $35 million. Both proposals would be funded by an increase in the federal tobacco tax.

The program expires Sept. 30 unless Congress approves reauthorization.

But Bush has threatened to veto the congressional proposals, calling instead for an increase of $5 billion. Some Republicans have argued that the House and Senate plans would expand the program beyond its original intent by helping pay for insurance for families that should be able to afford it on their own.

And the Bush administration has enacted rules that prevent states from increasing income limits for the program unless they enroll 95 percent of children in the lower income levels. On Friday, federal officials rejected an application from New York to expand the children's health insurance program.

Sebelius said Bush's proposal would hurt states because it is impossible to reach the 95 percent threshold.

Gary Brunk, president and chief executive officer of Kansas Action for Children, said states need to be able to tailor the health insurance programs to their needs.

For instance, he said, the number of children below the poverty line in Kansas who have coverage is on the rise, but those just above the poverty line who have coverage has decreased, prompting the need to increase income limits to get more people eligible for HealthWave.

"That is why flexibility ... is an essential thing," Brunk said.

Sebelius added that Bush's proposed $5 billion increase would not come close to helping states get to higher enrollment figures. There are an estimated 55,000 uninsured children in Kansas; 70 percent of whom are eligible for HealthWave, the governor's office reported.

On the funding side, Sebelius said she supported an increase in the federal tax on cigarettes, which is 39 cents per pack.

Sebelius said the public supports increases in the cigarette tax if the funds were used for health care. And, she said, any increase will deter young smokers.

"They are very price sensitive. So if you don't want kids to smoke, raise the taxes," she said.

Comments

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

The bill is flawed and should be vetoed. In it, you are a kid if you are in school and are under age 25. That is completely bogus.

Any funding for health insurance for kids should have a provision in it that a family that has cable and a cell phone would be ineligible. You can get health insurance for a child for less than it costs for those two items.

average 10 years, 4 months ago

Godot -

That is, of course, unless the kid has a chronic or congenital illness. Or has ever been sick before. In that case, insurance for the child will be many, many hundreds of dollars a month. But, that's okay. At least they were born.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm interested in how many anti-choice people are against this bill? Let them be born, but let them die early from inability to afford medical care. My daughter is low income, with a job that does not offer health insurance. My two grandchildren will be without insurance if this program ends. My husband has a really good job, and our family insurance is over $300/month. Far more than we pay for cable and cell phone. What world do you live in? Do "pro-lifers" just want babies to be born, and then to heck with them? Quality of life is important too.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 4 months ago

You're a liar. Tiller never forced anyone to have an abortion. Abortions happen to women who know they can't take care of their babies, and they know they aren't going to get any help from the anti-choice people. Tiller just had a too close relationship with the other doctor who was giving second opinions. He should have just chosen a doctor he didn't know. Put your money where your mouth is. Adopt babies, make sure that young mother's can support their babies. End this stupid war that is bankrupting our country. Create a society where no one has to make the choice to have an abortion.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

average wrote: "That is, of course, unless the kid has a chronic or congenital illness. Or has ever been sick before. In that case, insurance for the child will be many, many hundreds of dollars a month."

How much would it cost you to actually pay for that child's needed health care? The answer is, surely, more than hundreds of dollars per month.

If that kid had been covered by insurance, at a cost of a couple of dollars a day, since birth, that would not, now, be a problem. It is a matter of being aware, and planning for the future.

It is a matter of priorities.

Often, people choose to go without health insurance so they can have other things. They gamble that they will not get sick or injured; then, when a health crisis occurs, they find they cannot get health insurance that will cover the crisis that is in progress, and they cry, "unfair!" when, in real life, had they made health insurance a priority before the health crises arose, they would not have the problem they are facing today.

If a child becomes ill and has no insurance, the parents can apply and be approved for coverage through the State of Kansas. The program is called "Healthwave." It is not cheap, and it has its limits, but it is available to everyone who has been denied coverage by a company who is admitted to do business in Kansas. Healthwave is a bargain for parents of a child who is ill and needs care.

Which is better? Losing a child for lack of health care, or paying for Healthwave and doing without your cellphone, your cable and your internet?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 4 months ago

Fool, it's the Healthwave program that is going to lose funding. Read the article. There will be no Healthwave if this bill doesn't pass.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

"

dorothyhr (Anonymous) says:

Fool, it's the Healthwave program that is going to lose funding. Read the article. There will be no Healthwave if this bill doesn't pass."

Fool. This bill would extend the definition of "child" to be any person up to age 25 who is a student as long as that student's family does not earn more than $82K per year!

Fool to you, again and again.

Read. Learn the facts, fool. The Democrats who strive to enlarge this program to include college students through their graduate programs are sabotaging a program that was designed to help children, not adults who refuse to grow up and take responsibility for themselves and their decisions.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 4 months ago

rightthinker - We know you'll never help anyone out if you can get out of it. Make sure they're born, but then don't bother me. That's your philosophy.

Godot - It isn't the children's fault that our society makes it impossible to make a good living, unless you get an education, thus extending their dependency. Or would you rather poor kids stop trying to better themselves, so you can have cheap maids and nannies? Will you provide your new cheap domestic help with health insurance? Doubtful.

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