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WYO Parents Told Not to Panic After Pres. Health Care Veto

October 5, 2007

Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming's "Kid Care CHIP" offices have been flooded with calls from parents concerned that President Bush's recent veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program means their kids will lose critical health insurance coverage. They're being told they can still take their kids to doctors and dentists, at least for now. Program administrator Patty Guzman says the state has a cushion of cash to keep kids insured for a few months, while a solution is worked out that, she hopes, is in the best interest of families.

"We don't want families to be alarmed or afraid that their kids are going to be dropped. We're hoping that they’ll come to some type of compromise, and that our program won't be affected by it."

President Bush vetoed a bill that would have expanded children's healthcare coverage administered by states, saying it would hurt the private insurance market if parents who could afford coverage chose the state coverage instead. Guzman says the private insurance market actually benefits from Wyoming's "Kid Care CHIP" because of a partnership with the state. She adds that some low-wage working parents contribute by paying premiums on a sliding scale.

"It works well, and I think it shows that the public and private sectors can work well together and have a program as successful as this one."

About 5,800 Wyoming children currently have coverage through the state program; Guzman says another 6,000 are eligible, but not enrolled.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WY