The National Association of State Medicaid Directors and the American Public Human Services Association lashed out against a White House-led initiative that threatens to slash federal funding for childrens healthcare in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, the two groups charged that a new policy requiring states to first enroll 95% of eligible children into their State Childrens Health Insurance Program whose families are below 200% of the federal poverty level before the states expand eligibility would have a chilling effect and lead to higher uninsured numbers.
At a time when the number of Americans without health insurance has now grown to 47 million, this reversal of a decades-long policy of state flexibility to expand coverage is inexplicable and deeply troubling, the letter states.
Under terms set out in an August letter from the CMS, states would no longer be allowed to expand their coverage above 250% of poverty unless they can guarantee that they have successfully enrolled 95% of the eligible children who are below 200% of poverty in either SCHIP or Medicaid.
No state currently is able to demonstrate that they have enrolled 95% of the eligible population, AHSA said.
In a society as wealthy as ours, we have a responsibility to at least provide healthcare to our children, if not everybody, said Bruce Goldberg, policy council chairman for APHSA, during a conference call with reporters. -- by Matthew DoBias
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