One of the low points of the session was Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst’s explanation back in January of why families eligibile for the Children’s Health Insurance Program should have to sign up twice a year instead of annually: “I don’t think most people in Texas have a lot of sympathy for someone that can’t fill out a two-page application every six months.” Now the Washington-based Lone Star Project, which is headed by former Martin Frost staffer Matt Angle, is reporting that “David Dewhurst himself has repeatedly failed to complete and file routine forms needed to do business legally in Texas.“ The report goes on to say, “At least six times, businesses directed by, or connected to, David Dewhurst failed to fill out required forms in a timely fashion. In fact, David Dewhurst Investment Partnership was issued a Notice of Cancellation by the Texas Secretary of State on December 6, 2006, for failing to file a periodic report that is required only once every four years.”
Of all the programs in state government to be against, why would Dewhurst single out CHIP? It’s not a welfare program; participating families have to pay premiums. It’s not an entitlement; when the funds run out, no more families can be served. The federal government picks up much of the tab, and the state’s share is a drop in the bucket compared to Medicaid. The only reason to favor six months’ eligibility is that you want to cover fewer children–we know from experience that the shorter eligibility period will result in around 100,000 fewer children receiving coverage–but why would you want to? You can make a personal-responsibility argument, but to what end? Is it really worth adding 100,000 kids to the already shameful number of uninsured people in this state? It was one thing to raise the eligibility bar in 2003, when the state faced a $10 billion shortfall, but it’s quite another thing to raise it now, when the treasury is full. I don’t get it.