Correcting the record on children’s coverage…

In the Senate discussion on the budget, Republican Senator Cox feigned outrage that later this week, there was supposed to be a Senate Health Committee hearing on SB1(Steinberg), the bill for universal children’s coverage. He seems to suggest that it was sinister plot, that right after the budget was passed, those Democrats would go back to their spending.

He was wrong on the hearing–it had already been postponed. And wrong on the spending–even with a policy bill, actual money would need to be approved in the budget process, with the 2/3 vote that we are all painfully aware of.

Senator Cox went into details in his floor speech, talking about raising the eligibility level to 300% of the federal poverty level, about allowing other families to buy-in to the program, and about “presumptive eligibility”–like they were bad things. He had his aides distribute the “fact sheet” about SB1 as if it were a smoking gun–rather than a version of a bill that has been in circulation for years, and that Senator Steinberg has said multiple times since becoming President Pro Tem is a top priority for him.

It’s stunning that any Republican legislators find it appropriate to demand corporate tax giveaways in the budget, yet somehow mock separate policy bills to ensure children have health coverage–not to mention a bill that would bring in California millions in new federal funds.

With President Obama’s signature of the State Child Health Insurance Program and the economic recovery package that includes increased Medicaid matching funds, California has the opportunity to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal dollars.

It would be irresponsible if the Legislature did not start the policy conversation to consider how to take advantage of these new opportunities and new federal dollars, toward the worthy and nececssary goal of covering California’s children. Earlier this decade, there was considerable outrage when it was found that the state was not taking advantage of federal funds–and that those funds were going to other states as a result. We ne

In his mulitple proposals about redirecting Proposition 10/First Five Commission dollars, Senator Cox has himself argued to prioritize dollars to children’s coverage, so it is a puzzle why he would attack an already-delayed hearing of a measure to do just that.

For legislators that have complained about process, it seems we would want more hearings, not less. For legislators that want to support jobs, it seems we want to support a program that provides 2:1 and 3:1 federal matching dollars. And for legislators that have talked about prioritizing children’s covearge, it seems we should hear a bill to do just that.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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