Friday, March 05, 2004

How Can They Sleep at Night?

Compassionate Conservatism Part XXXIV:

How compassionate is it to erect barriers to entry between poor children and a successful child health care program?

From Bob Herbert's column today in the NYT:

I wrote a column back in January about the tens of thousands of youngsters from low-income families who were eligible for a children's health insurance program in Florida but, instead of being allowed into the program, were diverted by state officials to a long waiting list.

Even children with serious health problems were put on the list. Conni Wells, director of the Florida Institute for Family Involvement, which advises families on health matters, told me at the time, "We've had families tell us they've put off buying groceries so they can afford to take their child to the doctor."

The program is called KidCare. It's Florida's version of the nationally popular and successful Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, which covers families with incomes too low to pay for private health insurance but not low enough to qualify for Medicaid.
So the Republican controlled House and Senate of Florida decided to "reform" Kid Care. They've agreed to cover some portion of the current waiting list, perhaps as many as 90,000 of the over 100,000. But - and there's always a but with these folks - here's the "reform" part: in the future, the state will be prohibited from keeping a waiting list, and there will only be two thirty-day enrollment periods per year which the state is not required by law to actually hold.

Herbert perfectly and concisely sums this all up: "This is mean-spirited stuff. We are finding new and ingenious ways in this country to wreak havoc on low-income people."

If you had any doubts about what "Compassionate Conservatism" really means, you shouldn't any more.

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