Sicko

The Bush administration has imposed an executive order restricting access to a popular children's health insurance program. The new rules will thwart efforts by Vermont and other states to expand health care and could leave some 2,000 Vermont children who are currently enrolled without coverage. What the Bush administration is doing, Senator Bernie Sanders said, is "sick."

"It is outrageous that President Bush is slamming the doctors' office door on sick children," said Sanders, a member of th

The Bush administration has imposed an executive order restricting access to a popular children's health insurance program. The new rules will thwart efforts by Vermont and other states to expand health care and could leave some 2,000 Vermont children who are currently enrolled without coverage. What the Bush administration is doing, Senator Bernie Sanders said, is "sick."

"It is outrageous that President Bush is slamming the doctors' office door on sick children," said Sanders, a member of the Senate health committee.

"We are the only major nation which does not provide health insurance for all children. Instead of throwing kids off health care, Bush should be working with us to cover more kids," Sanders added. "Frankly, even for the Bush administration this is a new low. While he pushes for billions in tax breaks for the richest 1 percent, he is throwing kids off of the health insurance they already have. What a set of priorities!"

In a letter to state health officials, the Bush administration outlined new federal rules that limit access to the Children's Health Insurance Program. Sanders said the new eligibility restrictions could be especially devastating in Vermont. An estimated 2,000 of the 3,000 children enrolled in the Dr. Dynasaur program could lose coverage or the state would have to pay the entire amount for their insurance.

According to Families USA, "The Administrations new requirements will effectively establish a new income limit for SCHIP at 250 percent of poverty, Kathleen Stoll, Director of Health Policy for Families USA. Under current law, states can decide for themselves what the income limit for SCHIP should be. This new policy guts the ability of states to tailor their own SCHIP programs. Even worse, it eliminates health coverage for tens of thousands of children in at least 18 states and it blocks other states from enrolling additional uninsured children." According to the State of New Jersey, "'We are horrified at the new federal policy,' said Ann Clemency Kohler, deputy commissioner of human services in New Jersey. ‘It will cause havoc with our program and could jeopardize coverage for thousands of children.'" [Families USA, 8/20/08, New York Times, 8/21/08]

Cindy Mann, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, said the Bush administration "would effectively foreclose the opportunity for states to cover children in families with incomes of about $40,000 to $50,000 a year, depending on the size of family." [Washington Post, 8/21/07; New York Times, 8/21/07]

The State Children's Health Insurance Program was created in 1997 to help children whose families couldn't afford insurance but didn't qualify for Medicaid.