Over the past six years, President Bush has proven pretty definitively that he was just kidding when he once claimed to be a “compassionate conservative.” But his opposition to providing health insurance for impoverished and working class kids might rank as an all time low, even for him.
The administration has actively opposed reauthorization of the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a highly successful Clinton-era initiative that extended health insurance to families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy private insurance. The plan enrolls some 7 million children. In attempting to put a lid on the program, the administration already has banned states from using federal money to cover kids who are above 250 percent of the poverty line, which many had begun to do.
Bush officials have argued that the states hadn’t yet enrolled enough eligible poor kids in Medicaid to justify extending government aid to better off families. But now, the administration is trying to prevent states from doing just that–signing up more eligible kids.
On Aug. 31, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new regulation that would ban states from using federal funds to enroll poor kids for Medicaid or SCHIP if the work takes place in a public school. Not surprisingly, some states have found that the single best way to sign up lots of kids for Medicaid is to do outreach through their schools. If the new rule is approved, those programs will all but disappear, leaving thousands of kids without access to the health care they’re already entitled to. Read more about the new reg here.