State Health Insurance Program for Children May be Crying for Help - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/20/03 - East Texas

State Health Insurance Program for Children May be Crying for Help

Texas lawmakers have more bad news related to the state's 10 billion dollar budget shortfall. The state's money woes could mean cutting back on state funded health insurance for our children, a program called "Chip". In East Texas alone, nearly 25 thousand children already rely on chip. Without it, they will be without healthcare.

Next year's eye exam might not happen for 8 year old Javier Garcia. His mom, Argehlia , just found out he's been dropped from medicaid, "If I can't get on medicaid," she says. "Then I have to try for "chips"...I have to have some kind of insurance because health is too expensive."

Nearly 25-thousand children across East Texas currently rely on the "CHIPs" program...low cost health insurance. If budget cuts across Texas begin paring down on the "CHIPs" program, new patients like Javier, might not make next years list. A tough reality for families looking to enroll in "chips", family who are forced to cut corners at home says Elizabeth Smith of the Smith Counties "chips" coordinator, "These families are saving anywhere from 4 to 5 hundred dollars a month which means food, cloths, shoes for the kids; any other kind of necessities the kids might need."

Little things, important things... All adding up to a bigger picture according to Smith County's Health District Director, Nick Sciarini, "If a kids got a trauma or major illness and they have no insurance, what happens?" he asks. "You take them to the emergency room and they get the car. The hospital, if they have no money eats this cost--which is another reason why health insurance and other people are paying more, to help pay for the extra cost."

As lawmakers wrestle with cost...Arghelia just want to how she'll take care of her children, "I'm worried," she says. "If they don't have heath care--then what am I going to do?"

A frightening question thousands of families might be asking, unable to find an answer. Smith County Health District is expected to get word about the status of the "chips" program on Friday.

Jennifer Brice, reporting.

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