Barbour Opposes CHIP Measure

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

A bill in the United States Congress would more than double the amount of funds provided for the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. So why is Gov. Haley Barbour asking Mississippi's senators to vote against it?

Created in 1997, CHIP provides free insurance to children whose families make too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but too little to buy private insurance.

A U.S. Senate bill is trying to increase the funds. A good thing, right? Barbour says it actually isn't.

"The main effect of this bill is to give taxpayer-funded health insurance to middle class families," said Barbour.

Barbour says Mississippi has never received enough money to cover every eligible child. Instead, the state has depended on leftovers from wealthier states who don't use all their money.

"The starting point is that every state should receive or be guaranteed that they will get enough money to cover all the children under 200 percent of poverty before we start letting New York and New Jersey cover children whose families make $80,000 something a year," Barbour said.

Even though the governor does admit the bill would mean more money for the CHIP program here in this state, he says it would still fall woefully short of covering every child who needs the insurance program.

But the Children's Defense Fund says it's the governor's own fault all eligible children aren't covered.

"Children will be uncovered in Mississippi because of the burdensome criteria of going face to face for certification and re-certification. If we get rid of that, more children in Mississippi would be covered," said Pam Shaw of the Children's Defense Fund.

The governor said he hopes an amendment can be worked out in the Senate to cover all children below 200 percent of the poverty level. A vote on the issue is expected this week.

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