Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hawaii ending universal child health care

Oct 17, 2008

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched.

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program. A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

"People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free," said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. "I don't believe that was the intent of the program."

State officials said Thursday they will stop giving health coverage to the 2,000 children enrolled by Nov. 1, but private partner Hawaii Medical Service Association will pay to extend their coverage through the end of the year without government support.

"We're very disappointed in the state's decision, and it came as a complete surprise to us," said Jennifer Diesman, a spokeswoman for HMSA, the state's largest health care provider. "We believe the program is working, and given Hawaii's economic uncertainty, we don't think now is the time to cut all funding for this kind of program."

Hawaii lawmakers approved the health plan in 2007 as a way to ensure every child can get basic medical help. The Keiki (child) Care program aimed to cover every child from birth to 18 years old who didn't already have health insurance—mostly immigrants and members of lower-income families.

It costs the state about $50,000 per month, or $25.50 per child—an amount that was more than matched by HMSA.

State health officials argued that most of the children enrolled in the universal child care program previously had private health insurance, indicating that it was helping those who didn't need it.

The Republican governor signed Keiki Care into law in 2007, but it and many other government services are facing cuts as the state deals with a projected $900 million general fund shortfall by 2011.

While it's difficult to determine how many children lack health coverage in the islands, estimates range from 3,500 to 16,000 in a state of about 1.3 million people. All were eligible for the program.

"Children are a lot more vulnerable in terms of needing care," said Democratic Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland. "It's not very good to try to be a leader and then renege on that commitment."

The universal health care system was free except for copays of $7 per office visit.

Families with children currently enrolled in the universal system are being encouraged to seek more comprehensive Medicaid coverage, which may be available to children in a family of four earning up to $73,000 annually.

These children also could sign up for the HMSA Children's Plan, which costs about $55 a month.

"Most of them won't be eligible for Medicaid, and that's why they were enrolled in Keiki Care," Diesman said. "It's the gap group that we're trying to ensure has coverage."

(I dedicate this blog post to "thatdudePaul" When I read this article it reminded me of a comment he made on a someone's post last night! Why shouldn't we all just throw in the towel, quit our jobs and sign up and line up for all the "free" stuff? Where's the incentive to continue to work our asses off when we could just kick back and get it all for free? I'm no rocket scientist but I can see where this is going! Paul, you were right on buddy! VN8)


That dude Paul said...

Thank you for the shout out. It's amazing how "common folk" like you and I can look ahead and see how programs like this just wont work.

I bet the conservatives who voted against this are all singing the "We told you so" song...and good on them.

VoteNovember2008 said...

Well one of my avorite sayings is the following: If common sense is so common why don't you have any?

I think common folks, the Joe Six Pack and Joe the Plumber types get it more than anybody because we are living it. Just my opinion! Check out Sarah Palin on SNL tonight, I hope she knocks 'em dead! LOL. VN8

Anonymous said...

This is great, VN8...!!

It points out that people, like electricity, will take the path of least resistance. And it makes the larger point against stifling professional and personal development to fund huge bureaucracies and free social programs on the national scale, like BO wants to do.

Your post is well-timed and writes very clearly on the wall!!


Angie ^i^ said...

Florida has a program called: Florida Healthy Kids. In order to get that insurance, there is (depending upon the income level of the parent) a monthly fee of $10.00. There's also a minimal co-pay for hospital visits, doctor office visits, and medications (nothing exceeding $25.00). It insures children who are between the age of 0 - 18. For many years, when I had no insurance, my children were on that program and I loved it! If it weren't for the Healthy Kid program, my kids would have been uninsured! It's been around for as long as I can remember, and it has been very successful! The screening process is very detailed to so as to eliminate people who have other means of securing insurance for their children (for example: through their current employer). There is also an income cap. These programs DO work and they ARE needed! It sounds to me like Hawaii didn't have strict enough criteria for the program to be successful in their state.. perhaps they should take a look at our program and revamp their own.

Angie ^i^ said...

I really feel badly for those children now who are uninsured! I'm truly hoping folks aren't having that "I told you so" attitude because kids will be suffering now. It's really quite sad.

Myra said...

..........................................................................................................(this is my long pause, trying to come up with a response, but each time I do, I just sigh instead)

VoteNovember2008 said...

Wow, Myra, thanks for stopping by! Great to have you participating in the blog! That was a dang long pause! Pause is good, I do that when I don't want to make a visceral response. Come back anytime and participate! VN8

VoteNovember2008 said...

Paul, yep, I can hear them saying na na na na na na! LOL VN8

VoteNovember2008 said...

OM1, yep, BO wants to take us down the primrose path alright! Keep the faith and continue to pray that we don't have to go down that path! VN8

VoteNovember2008 said...

PS Myra, allow me to introduce you to Angie, you two have one thing in common, she's in the real estate business as well. :) VN8

Anonymous said...

VN8, I'll kinda go out on a limb here, but this is one of those emo knee-jerk cries: "The Children, The Children!!!" Did anyone notice that those uninsured "children" are also unemployed? Come ON!!! The parents (at least one each) are the insurance policy carriers. In order to insure these "children", somewhere there's a parent who needs coverage. This is totally overlooked in the socialist media. Oh sure, some will get their panties in a wad over this, but I'll mention that I do the knee-jerk thing, too. Children need care. Period. Media makes it look like a millions of children are orphaned or are wards of a court somewhere without health care. It's NOT the case. It's the PARENTS who need insurance, but media gets more of an emo response crying about "The Children, The Children!!!" Media gives a crap about kids ... Ask Bridgette McCain! Only thing they care about is advertising revenue and knee-jerk emotionalism. Know what? They're damn good at their job!

VoteNovember2008 said...

OM1C, you crack me up! I hate to bore you by repeating myself, but I was raised by a single parent, my mother owned her own business, she raised my sister and myself with no government assistance. We didn't have anything but a roof over our heads and never had a clue how little we had. In the 60's where I lived, insurance was sold at the beginning of the school year. If I remember correctly, my mom paid 10.00 for 24 hr. coverage for myself. It was like 6.00 if you only wanted insurance to cover accidents during the school day. I didn't go to the dentist for the first time til I was 18 years old and had the first job that offered dental insurance. I'm so happy that my mother taught me that it's my own responsibility to take care of my needs.

Hope you are checking out Joe on Huckabee! He just got custody of his 13 year old son and cuts cost by eating bologna! This is a real guy! VN8

Angie ^i^ said...

So what you're implying VN8 is that I'm NOT a good Mom because I needed help with insurance for my children for a few years? Here, let me bend over so you can kiss my ass!

FYI, school insurance IS government subsidized!

Anonymous said...

Oh, hey ... my kid had school insurance, too. Subsidized and all, we paid for our share, too. Responding how ever you had to to ensure your kids' safety is all that matters, Angie ... and it sounds like you did that.

VN8 (I keep typing a "9" like I'm trying to give you a promotion - heh) I was raised the same as you in the one-parent regard ... but my dad beat "responsibility" into my head so much I STILL have headaches!

VoteNovember2008 said...

Wow, Angie, now whose getting nasty? Aren't you being the Queen of implication? I never said you weren't a good mother.

As for your generous offer, thanks but no thanks, I personally don't swing that way.

Angie, in 1966, insurance sold through the school system was sold privately and was NOT subsidized by the school system, but nice try. VN8

VoteNovember2008 said...

OM1C, my mother beat my ass! LOL But I don't have any headaches associated with that! LOL

As for the promotion if I have to pay any kind of tax associated with the promotion, I may have contemplate the worth! LOL VN8

Anonymous said... much for my bomb-defusing technique. (ducking and running for my life!)