Mass. profits from states
that didn't spend fast enough
"We're making great progress, but if there's one
uninsured kid, we're still failing."
State Sen. Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford)
Windfall to boost Mass. child health
The Boston Globe - Sep. 25, 2000
We have a number of problems here in the Bay State, but
finding ways to spend OPM (Other People's Money) has never been one of them -- and apparently children without health insurance
isn't one either.
The "2.8 percent of the state's children not covered by
insurance" translates into 97.2 percent that are covered.
But according to the social Utopians, "we're still failing."
When the Gimme Lobby whines that we can't afford to keep the
promise and roll back the 11-year old "temporary" income tax because we need to "invest" (translation: spend) in health
care for children, remember that they're not talking about an epidemic, but a relative few. Now we know it's 2.8 percent
-- that they now have to search for.
When they squeal about "hospitals closing" when Question 4
wins in November, ask how that's even conceivable with so much insurance cash floating around in our population.
When they screech that the sky's going to fall, you're on
your own to introduce them to Chicken Little.
We've spent our "fair share" of federal tax dollars, and now
we're going to spend what other states' couldn't spend too, lucky us.
Even more OPM is pouring into the state, more will be spent,
but that's still "not enough."
"More Is Never Enough" (MINE)!
More never will be.
Until they have it all.
Monday, September 25, 2000
Massachusetts to gain windfall
from states who didn't spend enough
BOSTON (AP) Massachusetts soon will receive a federal windfall
earmarked for health insurance for children in low-income families because other states didn't spend enough.
The federal government said at least 40 states have so far
failed to spend a total of $1.9 billion they were granted by Congress in 1997 under the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Congress specified that any state that did not spend its allotment within three years would forfeit the funds.
About 45 percent of the $4.2 billion provided by Congress
hasn't been spent by the states, state and federal officials said.
Any money left after the Sept. 30 deadline will be redistributed to the 10 states, including Massachusetts,
that used their full allotments of federal money under the child health program.
While it has not yet been decided how the unspent money will
be divided up, Massachusetts officials said they will use the Bay State's share to help reduce even further the 2.8 percent
of the state's children not covered by insurance.
"Massachusetts has done far and away the best job of insuring children," Rich Copp, spokesman for the
state Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said Sunday. "Whatever additional money we get,
we'll put toward the areas where we can continue to improve."
The child health program known as CHIP was designed for
children whose parents' income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, yet cannot afford private insurance.
In Massachusetts, the program is open to families with
incomes up to twice the federal poverty level.
Under the program, Massachusetts was allotted $42.8 million
in 1998, $42.6 million in 1999 and $48 million for fiscal year 2000.
Although federal officials have not confirmed the list of
states that will benefit from the redistribution, the states besides Massachusetts are Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine,
Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, according to The New York Times.
The states sharing the unspent funds will have until Sept.
30, 2001, to use the money, or it will revert to the federal treasury.
Richard McGreal, spokesman for the state Division of Medical
Assistance, said Massachusetts has been very successful in signing children up for the CHIP program. Copp said that
through state and federal programs, Massachusetts has enrolled bout 93,000 uninsured children since 1997.
The Boston Globe
Monday, September 25, 2000
Windfall to boost Mass. child health
By Marcella Bombardieri
Massachusetts is one of a group of states that will soon
share a $1.9 billion windfall in federal funds to provide health insurance coverage for low-income children, state and
federal officials said yesterday.
Tens of millions of dollars will be headed to the Bay State
because at least 40 states failed to spend the money they were granted by Congress in 1997.
When it established the Children's Health Insurance Program,
Congress specified that any state that did not spend its allotment within three years would forfeit the funds, and that
the money would then be redistributed to states that did exhaust their federal grants.
Because so few states actually spent all of the money for
uninsured children, the remaining nine or 10 states -- the exact number is not clear -- are being handsomely rewarded. The
money destined for Massachusetts will help reduce the rate of children in the state, 2.8 percent, not covered by insurance.
"Massachusetts has done far and away the best job of insuring children," said Rich Copp, spokesman for the
state Executive Office of Health and Human Services. "Whatever additional money we get, we'll put toward
the areas where we can continue to improve."
In addition to Massachusetts, the states that will benefit
from the redistribution are Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and South
Carolina, according to The New York Times.
A spokeswoman in Washington for the Health Care Financing
Administration, which oversees the program, could not confirm the list of states yesterday. She added that it has not yet
been decided how the $1.9 billion will be divided among the states.
The Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, was
designed to meet the needs of children caught in the middle -- children whose parents' income is too high to qualify for
Medicaid yet cannot afford private insurance. In Massachusetts, the program is open to families with incomes up to twice the
federal poverty level.
Under the program, the state was allotted $42.8 million in
1998, $42.6 million in 1999, and $48 million for fiscal year 2000.
The monies to be returned are from the 1998 budget. The
three-year span in which each state had to use its grants expires Sept. 30. Every state still has the opportunity to use
its allotment for 1999 and 2000.
Massachusetts and the other states receiving the unused
funds will have one year -- until Sept. 30, 2001, to spend the money, or it will revert to the Treasury.
In the race to use the 1998 funds, Massachusetts had an
advantage because the state had already begun several initiatives to enroll uninsured children before Congress
created CHIP, said Richard McGreal, spokesman for the state Division of Medical Assistance.
"We had the infrastructure in place," said McGreal. "Other
states have looked to us as an example of reaching out to children and getting them enrolled."
Also, the state has used innovative methods to spread the
word about the program to parents, McGreal said. Each school year, a flier goes home with every student in the state,
explaining options for state insurance. Also, hospitals and community organizations have helped inform families.
McGreal said Massachusetts has been the second most successful state in the nation in signing children up
for the CHIP program. Through state and federal programs, the state has enrolled about 93,000 uninsured
children since 1997, Copp said....
While all 50 states set up CHIP programs, many found they
did not have time to establish their programs and enroll large numbers of children within the three-year limit, according to
the Health Care Financing Administration official, who could not be identified because of an agency regulation.
Many of the states were surprised at how complicated and
time-consuming the undertaking was, said the official, who added that several of the more successful states already had
programs in place before CHIP was created.
States also had to spend some of their own money to qualify
for all the federal funds, and some were unwilling or unable to do so.
Although only 2.8 percent of children in the Bay State are
currently uninsured, according to a state report issued last month, state officials said they would have no problem finding
ways to use additional federal grants.
The report indicated that three times as many Latinos lack
health insurance as whites, and twice as many blacks are uninsured.
"It's just speculation, but we could continue to target
specific groups, such as Hispanic children," Copp said.
Massachusetts should take satisfaction in its accomplishments, but still work aggressively to help both
children and adults get access to health care, said state Senator Mark C. Montigny, a New Bedford
"I'm just proud to see the fruits of our work," said
Montigny, who cosponsored a 1996 bill that increased the cigarette tax to cover uninsured children. "We're making great
progress, but if there's one uninsured kid, we're still failing."
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