Rep. Kathy Castor - $50 billion added to SCHIP health insurance program04/03/07 Seán Kinane
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This morning at Hillsborough High School, U.S. Representative Kathy Castor announced a 50 billion dollar federal reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP. It is a federal-state partnership to provide healthcare to uninsured children. Castor also unveiled her plan to streamline the process of making that health insurance program available to Florida’s children.
“Unfortunately, the State of Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the whole country. But the prospects are improving.”
Representative Kathy Castor feels that prospects for Florida’s uninsured children are improving because of Congress’s recent 5-year reauthorization of SCHIP. In Florida the KidCare and Healthy Kids programs are funded by SCHIP. 71 percent of this program is funded by the federal government, but states must come up with the remaining 29 percent. But Castor feels that many kids are not enrolled because of bureaucratic barriers that she hopes to remove.
“And what has happened in the State of Florida because of all these bureaucratic barriers, is over the past few years, hundreds of thousands of children have fallen off the rolls and do not have the ability to go into the doctor’s office and access the affordable healthcare that they deserve. So what my bill will do is eliminate this red tape and create an express lane to health insurance coverage. An express lane to that doctor’s office visit that is so vital to the health of our kids.”
Castor displayed about six documents that families must fill out in order to apply for KidCare or Healthy Kids. In the past, schools helped families fill out the forms. But that is no longer typical and some of these forms are only available online. Because of these hurdles, Florida is losing federal SCHIP funding.
“The State of Florida is leaving over 500 million dollars on the table up in Washington. That money could be paying for doctors visits for Mia’s family and others throughout this community.”
Because Congress has reauthorized SCHIP funding, it is now the responsibility of the State of Florida to authorize its 29% of SCHIP funding.
“The governor in his proposed budged put 44 million dollars above last years level. That’s a good start. But it’s the legislature that’s going to pass that final appropriations bill and they’ve got to sign seal and deliver it, send it to the governor’s desk so that he can sign it.”
Mia Dorton is a mother of three who applied for KidCare and found that her premiums and co-pays were considerably reduced from when her family had been enrolled in for-profit health insurance.
“I think a lot of people have the misconception that because it is a funded program, a government funded program, that you have to meet the income qualifications that everybody else has to meet for other government funded programs and that’s a big, big misconception. … When I applied, we were accepted onto KidCare. And I was so thrilled about that because our premium every month is $20 for 3 children and there was no co-pays when we went to the doctors offices. And a hospital co-pay was $5. I have an asthmatic son and some medications are $5, some of them don’t cost anything.”
On its website, the group Physicians for a National Health Program claims that “private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third of every health care dollar.” And that the streamlining that would occur if a single-payer healthcare system were implemented “would save more than $350 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.” WMNF asked Representative Castor if she would be in favor of a single-payer universal healthcare system.
“I think it would be good to do. And another part of the problem is the amount of money going to the war in Iraq. And I believe that if we can find a trillion dollars to fund war in Iraq, certainly we can find those same dollars to fund the healthcare needs of people in this country and in this community.”
Castor said that because of the current budget deficit, single-payer healthcare is not something she could implement right away, but what she calls a “new revolution in healthcare” is possible in the future.
“After we passed that 50 billion dollar allocation in the Federal budget last week, President Bush announced that he would oppose it. So it’s going to take new leadership in the White House and then the Congress balancing the books of the Federal budget over the next few years. And then I predict we will embark on a new revolution in healthcare whether it’s single-payer, universal, whatever you want to call it. Making sure people have the ability to go see a doctor and have their health care needs taken care of without paying astronomical amounts of money.”
WMNF asked Representative Castor about her vote authorizing $100 Billion in additional funding to extend the Iraq war. She said that because there were nonbinding timetables in the bill that it was a message to the President that the country wants U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq.
“Well, this was a historic vote; to put a timeline on it. I think no matter what your position on the war in Iraq, everyone believes that we need greater accountability, and that Iraq must stand up for itself, and that President Bush must be sent the message that it’s time to bring our troops home. That funding resolution – you’ve got to provide the equipment and the ability of our troops to withdraw and that’s what that bill does.”
If you would like more information about Florida KidCare, call their toll-free number 1-888-540-5437 or you can apply online at floridakidcare –dot- org. To find out more about single-payer system, visit the website of Physicians for a National Healthcare Program at P-N-H-P –dot- org. For WMNF News, I’m Seán Kinane
Florida KidCare 1-888-540-5437
Florida Healthy Kids
U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, FL-11
State Children's Health Insurance Program
Physicians for a National Health Program
H.R. 676 – Conyers-Kucinich bill for universal single-payer healthcare systemUnited States National Health Insurance Act (or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act)
Unused Castor sound clip:“We’ve got to take back the control of our healthcare system and not privatize it and insure that the HMOs are making huge profits while citizens throughout this country can’t afford to see the doctor and get the drugs they need.”