Rick Perry vs. the World *
Tracking the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race.
* Now at the new Rick Perry vs World

Sunday, January 02, 2005
KBH in the Houston Chron
The Houston Chronicle prints a full-length editorial from Senator Hutchison on CHIP. It's notable that she frames the issue as a tax issue.
Anyone who is taxed in Texas -- particularly overburdened property taxpayers -- should be concerned about our state's health care system.

The system is steadily deteriorating. The fallout affects all of us, even those of us with health insurance or the ability to pay for quality health coverage.

Texas ranks last in the nation in percentage of citizens with health insurance, and we have the highest percentage of uninsured children. As a practical matter, and under our state constitution, every county offers health care to those who need it regardless of ability to pay -- through public hospitals. These public hospitals are financed by taxpayers, and they are picking up the burden when the uninsured seek medical care.

. . .

I'm concerned that, despite the best efforts of our congressional delegation, Texas has not maximized its use of CHIP to support our state health care system. Since 2000, Texas has turned back about $700 million in unused federal funds to the U.S. Treasury, and those funds are now being used by other states, to help their working families pay for health insurance. In the recently ended fiscal year, the Congressional Research Service estimates Texas turned back more than $50 million in unused federal funds.

This money should be used to assist our county hospitals and the property taxpayers who fund them. Dr. Ray Perryman, an economist, has concluded that whenever Texas fails to take full advantage of Medicaid and CHIP, the state's economy is weakened. For every state dollar removed from these plans, he notes, local taxes must rise by 51 cents, insurance premiums on those with coverage must rise by about $1.33, and retail sales decline by almost two dollars. Perryman suggests the state treasury is also an ultimate loser, because the decreased economic activity causes a drop in state tax revenue.

As a matter of simple fiscal conservatism, I hope Texas will, in the future, take full advantage of available federal matching funds to bolster our state health care system, and relieve increasing pressure on taxpayers who fund county hospitals. CHIP, given the available federal match, makes sense for our children's health and economic sense for our taxpayers.

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