There was a time when Texans woke up every morning thanking God for Mississippi and Alabama when it came to health and human services. Those days are long gone!
Even though I am in a position to see our ugly reality on a daily basis, I must admit the story in The Dallas Morning News on Thursday, January 20, 2005, blew me away one more time. Will I ever learn?
You couldn't miss reporter Robert T. Garrett's headline:
"Children's insurance program forfeits millions."
Uh, oh! Here we go again.
Texas gave up $104.6 million, a bit over one third of the funding assigned to the state by the U. S. Department of Health and Human services for use in its Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) during 2002.
No doubt, you have read about CHIP over the past year or so. The legislature and governor decided to scale the program back in order to help balance the state's budget during its last session.
Funding from Washington is awarded as matching funds. If a state does not spend enough to receive the 3 to 1 match--that is almost three federal dollars for every one state dollar spent--it relinquishes its funding.
In other words, by saving something over $30 million, Texas lost $104,000,000.
Sadly, this is not the first loss for Texas. Since CHIP began just a few years ago, Texas has surrendered almost $772 million in funds for the children's insurance product.
Of course, the politicians immediately began blaming one another for the failure. Governor Perry blamed Senator Hutchison. Senator Hutchison blamed Governor Perry.
Ho hum. What's new there? Well, I guess it is new for two Republicans to square off, but then maybe not with Democrats on the verge of extinction in the state!
Among the real losers are the children of Texas and the overall status of our public health.
Wonder where that "lost funding" went--funding that hard working Texans sent to Washington when they paid their tax bills?
The funds were redistributed to states who had spent their entire allotment.
A lesson my dad taught me years ago comes to mind just here. Something about having to spend money to make money.
Anybody else ready for the emergence of real leaders?