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Wyoming “Kid Care” May Need some TLC

October 8, 2007

Casper, WY - Insurance companies and the Governor give kudos to the public-private partnership that insures low-income children in Wyoming. However, the state's Congressional delegation still decided to back President Bush's veto of a plan to extend Wyoming's "Kid Care CHIP" plan, along with all other State Children's Health Insurance (S-CHIP) programs in the country.

Sarah Gorin, with the Equality State Policy Center, says Wyoming's children are being punished because of perceived unfairness in S-CHIP coverage in other states.

"If President Bush and Congress have a problem with some aspect of the program, they need to be addressing that aspect of it, instead of swatting a fly with a sledgehammer and killing this whole program."

"Kid Care CHIP" covers almost 6,000 kids in Wyoming; another 6,000 are eligible, but not signed up. Gorin says keeping children insured keeps healthcare costs down for everyone.

"Not industry, not policymakers, and certainly not healthcare providers want these children to join the ranks of the uninsured in Wyoming, which already number over 80,000 people."

Some opponents complain that families making $80,000 a year qualify for coverage in New York, but that's hardly the situation in Wyoming. Working families here are eligible if they earn incomes just above the poverty level, and coverage isn't free. Families pay a sliding scale premium for "Kid Care CHIP" coverage, and there's a $500 deductible. New York was able to offer coverage to higher income families, through a waiver signed by President Bush.

Congress does not have enough votes to override Bush's veto, and is expected to begin work soon on a new version of the S-CHIP funding bill.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WY