August 25, 2004
The Honorable Rick Perry
Governor, State of Texas
Capitol Building, Room 2S.1
Austin, Texas 78701
Dear Governor Perry:
I respectfully request that you order your Health and Human Services Commission to immediately rescind the new, arbitrary Children's Health Insurance Program means test. This mean-spirited means test that started yesterday will literally jeopardize the health of countless children of the working poor.
Governor, we are talking about disqualifying working poor families who have managed to put aside in their personal savings accounts as little as $5,000 for their children's education, or for unexpected emergencies, or any of the normal costs of living.
If you can magically manage to keep two maids, a cook, and a porter on your staff at the Governor's Mansion while claiming that they are not part of your budget, certainly you can figure out a way to continue insuring the health of these children.
By shifting your personal Mansion staff and salaries of five other staffers to another agency, you claimed a $300,000 budget cut. Had that cut been real, the state could have used those dollars to draw down an additional $771,000 in federal money. This would have provided health insurance to an estimated 930 children for a year.
Since last September, 147,525 children have been dropped off health insurance rolls because of measures you signed into law. This new means testing--which I say is nothing more than a mean test--will certainly further jeopardize innocent children's health.
In July of 2003, I identified $702.6 million that could have been used to fully restore CHIP and partially restore other health care cuts made during the last regular session. Prior to the Legislative Budget Board's actions yesterday there was $1.2 billion available that could have been used to fully restore CHIP and partially restore other health care cuts. As of today, more than $934.3 million remains available to fully restore cuts in CHIP and partially restore other health care cuts.
I repeatedly asked you to add funding for children's health insurance to the call of four special Legislative sessions, and you would not even let our representatives vote to save children's lives. That's unconscionable!
Governor, your maids and cook and porter, I am certain, are vital to your quality of life. Please understand that the insurance you are denying children with this new means test is vital to their life, period.
It is time to stop the hypocrisy. It is time to stop the hemorrhaging. It is time to put children first.
Carole Keeton Strayhorn