Texas State Lawmaker Criticizes State’s Progress on CHIP Enrollment
Because Texas is "doing such a poor job of reaching out to uninsured children," it is "unlikely" to meet a goal of enrolling 428,000 of them in CHIP by September 2001, state Rep. Rob Junell (D) wrote in a "tersely worded letter" to state Health and Human Services Commission Chair Don Gilbert. Junell, chair of the state House Appropriations Committee, wrote, "It appears to me that we have enrolled the easiest population to reach first. The next 300,000 are going to be very difficult." He attributed the program's problems in part to "a 'reticence' to allow welfare workers to determine which children are eligible." Junell also criticized the private companies -- Birch & Davis and Sherry Mathews Public Relations -- hired to enroll children and publicize the program. Saying he "was not satisfied" with the firms, Junell requested a meeting with Gilbert, the private contractors and others for this week. While the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram could not reach Junell for comment, state Rep. Garnet Coleman (D), vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said that Texas' CHIP is "a mess." He added, "It's very clear that the system that has been put together is very poor. The reason he (Junell) wrote this letter is because they are not doing what they're supposed to do." While Gilbert "welcomed a meeting," he "disputed Junell's characterizations," saying, "We're actually doing quite well, in my opinion. I think the CHIP program is going very well." The state "is on track to exceed its goal," Gilbert said, noting that in October nearly 40,000 children were enrolled, "a monthly record since the program began accepting applications in April" (Root, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 11/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.