A proposal to offer health insurance to about 180,000 Colorado children who lack coverage got bipartisan support Wednesday in a Senate committee. Senate Bill 211 would raise the income limits for kids to receive coverage under the Medicaid and Children’s Basic Health Plan programs. It also would fund a team of state workers to find families eligible for those government-assistance programs and enroll them, and it creates a committee to determine how to reach all uninsured children.
The bill has great intentions and could help out a lot of people. But something this costly, $13.2 million price tag for next year and a $61.5 million bill for the 2008-09 fiscal year, needs more time for discussion. This bill was just proposed too late in the session.
Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, questioned why such an important and expensive bill is coming through so late in the session. By trying to cram discussion of an enormous change to the health care system into a one-hour hearing, legislators are not allowed to study what drawbacks it would have or what programs might be cut to accommodate it, he said.“This bill may be the most enlightened proposal to come to this body this year or it may be a well-intentioned, wrongheaded turn in the wrong direction,” Mitchell said. “All of that bears examination.”
Even though it has such great possibilities, it’s expensive. If something like this is rushed through without thinking, it could backfire and stunt the movement to get coverage for all uninsured children in Colorado.
Gov. Bill Ritter and legislative leaders have warned lawmakers to think twice about moving bills with big price tags, making it likely the proposal faces a rougher road when it heads next to the Senate Appropriations Committee.