Signalling an end to the perceived House/Senate split on CHIP eligibility, David Dewhurst told me today he has begun conversations with LBB chief John O’Brien to come up with a more realistic cost figure for adopting a new eligibility verification system.

Dewhurst made his comments as Senator Jane Nelson presented the Health and Human Serveice portion of the proposed budget currently being debated on the Senate floor.

“We have to get away from this six-month versus 12-month debate,” Nelson said.

Stepping off the podium, Dewhurst said he agreed, and said the Senate is studying whether a more efficient method of constant verification would be more effective. For instance, he said CHIP administrators might conduct continuous sampling of families on the CHIP rolls to see if they still are eligible for services. He reiterated the statement made in a letter to Dallas Interfaith leaders — that he wants all eligible children to receive services.

Meanwhile, he said his office contacted the Interaith leader who expressed unhappiness at not being able to get a meeting with him. After his office offered to meet immediately or tomorrow, the minister agreed to attend a Monday meeting, he said.