According to the New York Times, the Bush administration is adopting new standards that will effectively prevent the states from expanding health care for children.
Administration officials said that "the changes were intended to return the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children and to make sure the program did not become a substitute for private health coverage."
Among the restrictions included in the new policy are:
- States must demonstrate that they have “enrolled at least 95 percent of children in the state below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.” (Currently no state has been able to achieve this.)
- States should charge co-payments or premiums that approximate the cost of private coverage and should impose “waiting periods” to make sure middle-income children do not go directly from a private health plan to a public program.
- If a state wishes to raise the income requirements to over 250% of the federal poverty level, they must impose a one-year period of non-insurance for individuals before they receive coverage.
Officials in New Jersey, New York and California all expressed dismay at the new restrictions, saying they will cause children to lose coverage and leave many others uninsured.
250% of the poverty level may sound like a lot, but keep in mind the poverty level is set at the federal level; in states with higher standards of living, being at 250% of the poverty level is still pretty low.
Weren't the Republicans always the party that wanted limited federal government? Weren't they the ones who used to claim that states' rights were so important?
But now if states want to do something they don't like, that it becomes OK for the federal government to butt in? It's all well and good to let states do what they want if they want to allow everyone to own a gun, but not if the state in question wants to allow assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, or, heaven forbid, allow kids to have health coverage.
The hypocrisy of this administration and the rest of the neocons is simply amazing.