Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Our Children are STILL Locked Out

To read Georgia newspapers today, you'd think that the Georgia GOP was the savior of Georgia's PeachCare program and that they reached into their own pockets and found the money to 'loan' the federal government. Don't be fooled. It's time for a little truth check:

1) PeachCare is not fixed. The GOP plan for stop-gap funding does not rescind the freeze on new enrollments until Congress reauthorizes the SCHIP program. This could also impact families who miss premium payments.

2) Georgia Republicans still intend to rollback qualification standards. See this quote from the Telegraph:

Democrats on Tuesday quickly turned their attention to fighting cuts to PeachCare being pushed by top state Republicans. Perdue has said he supports a proposal by Richardson that would lower the income eligibility threshold for PeachCare from 235 percent of poverty to 200 percent. Those already in the program in that income range would be grandfathered in, Perdue said.

3) Bridging the funding gap is not what the GOP wanted. It is an idea that was birthed early in the session by caucus Vice Chair, Nikki Randall. See her quote here:

State Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon, said she was "pleased" at the step. She'd been pushing a similar fix for weeks by asking colleagues to pass House Bill 236, which would have allowed the state to put its own money into PeachCare once the federal reimbursements ran out.
"I wish I'd thought of it myself," Randall said of Perdue's solution. "But I did think of it myself."

We cannot sit by quietly while the Georgia GOP now moves forward to fund boat ramps and who knows what else while they reduce critical services for our children. It is all about priorities.

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