Rick “39%” Perry – Children’s Health Care Hypocrite

Perry playing to cameras while stiff-arming Texas kids
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Hypocritical and dishonest are terms too soft to describe the self-serving media show Rick Perry put on during his recent trip to Washington. After his meeting with the Texas Congressional Delegation, standing before reporters, Perry made a passionate appeal for more federal funds to pay for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPS). The San Antonio Express News reported, “Gov. Rick Perry pleaded with the Texas congressional delegation Monday to fully fund a children’s health care program.” Perry went on to say, “We want to make sure the federal government doesn’t balance their budget on the back of our CHIP dollars.” (Source: San Antonio Express-News, February 27, 2007)

Rick Perry failed to remind the reporters that he, along with the Republican leadership in the Texas Legislature, cut funding for about 200,000 children who were eligible for coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program since 2003. (Source: Austin American-Statesman, January 26, 2007). Even more outrageous, during the time that Rick Perry has served as either Texas Lt. Governor or Governor, Texas has returned more than $893 million in federal government matching funds that would have been spent on CHIPS. (Source: Center for Public Policy Priorities, January 10, 2007) Showing a continued lack of commitment to the problem, the budget Rick Perry submitted to the Legislature just a few weeks ago, under funded CHIPS so severely that less than 15,000 of the 200,000 Texas children would have their health care coverage restored over the next three years. (Source: Center for Public Policy Priorities, January 10, 2007)

Under Perry, Texas leads nation in uninsured children while surrendering nearly $1 billion in federal funds to other states

  • 20.2% of Texas children are uninsured children, more than any other state and almost twice the national average. Literally, one in five Texas kids does not have health insurance.
  • 80% of these uninsured children have at least one working parent. (Source: Children’s Defense Fund Texas; 2006 U.S. Census)
  • Texas remains a federal tax “donor state”. The most recent figures show that Texas gets just $0.94 back from the federal government for each dollar it pays into the federal government, ranking Texas 36 worst among all states. (Source: Office of Management and Budget; Tax Foundation, March 2006)
  • Texas has surrendered $893.4 million in CHIP funding since 1998. (Source: Center for Public Policy Priorities, January 10, 2007)
Texas Unspent CHIP Funds Lost to Other States
YearFederal CHIP Funds LostTexas kids not covered due to Failed Republican Leadership
FY 1998$170 million165,361
FY 1999$324.5 million315,645
FY 2000$123.7 million120,324
FY 2001$85.3 million82,972
FY 2002$104.6 million101,746
FY 2003$23.8 million23,151
FY 2004$61.5 million*59,822
Total lapsed to date (2000-2006)$893.4 million121,146 average number of kids per year not covered

*Estimates based on CHIP costs per child in SB1 79th Regular Session, actual numbers of children will be higher because of rising health care premiums. To increase the number of children on CHIPs, Texas would need to relax enrollment criteria and provide additional state funding. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, analysis of CMS data. *Lapse of 2004 allocation based on Congressional Research Service reports as of 12/13/2006.)

Perry Outflanked by Leaders in Other States

Year in and year out, Rick Perry and Republican leaders in Texas surrender taxpayer funds to other states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. In short, Texans tax dollars are being used to pay for health care coverage for children in OTHER states. Most recently, Georgia’s Senators have been active in securing more funding for their children’s health care program. The Associated Press reported, “Georgia’s senators, Republicans Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, have proposed shifting money from states with surplus SCHIP money, like Texas and Connecticut. (Source: Associated Press Online, February 23, 2007)

While other state leaders are aggressively moving to secure more federal funding and insure more of their state’s children, Governor Perry proposed a budget that leaves hundreds of thousands of eligible Texas kids without health care. In fact, the 2008-2009 budget Perry submitted just a few weeks ago would restore health care for fewer than 15,000 of the 200,000 Texas children who have lost their health care since 2003. (Source: Center for Public Policy Priorities, January 10, 2007; Texas Health and Human Services Commission)

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