"Once again the Bush Administration appears completely out of touch with working families in New York," said Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WFP-Tompkins/ Cortland). "This administration has shown that it is willing to spend billions of dollars in Iraq, but is not prepared to provide health coverage for our children."
Lifton called on Governor Spitzer to pursue legal action against the federal government over new regulations put into place by the Bush Administration that will severely limit New York’s efforts to insure thousands of children in New York who currently lack health insurance. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rejected New York’s efforts to expand eligibility for the State’s Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover all uninsured children in New York State.
In August, the administration issued guidelines requiring states to show it has enrolled 95 percent of eligible children in families making below $41,300 for a family of four before it can insure children in families making above $51,625 for a family of four. This year, New York’s state budget expanded the Child Health Plus program to cover children in families making up to $82,600 for a family of four. New York currently covers 88 percent of children living in families making less than $41,300, one of the highest levels of any state.
Federal restrictions will also require that children be uninsured for one year-with no exceptions- before becoming eligible for Child Health Plus. New York’s plan to require a six month ‘crowd out period’, with exceptions, is similar to many other states whose plans have been approved to expand coverage.
"The idea that uninsured children and their families must suffer for a year before they become eligible for health insurance is insensitive and unconscionable," Lifton said. "This ruling does not even make an exception for a child whose parent may have lost their job."
"There is nothing more important than health care, especially for young children" Lifton said. “It is impetrative that we fight this ruling and reverse the misguided policies of this administration."