Plan to market state program goes too far

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and others in Jackson are determined to make the state-sponsored insurance program for children work – regardless of the cost.

In the latest round of plans to keep the struggling Children’s Health Insurance Program going, the state wants to offer reward money to schools for enrolling children into the programs. We think this isn’t necessarily a good use of either our school personnel’s time or our state’s money.

Let us make no bones about it, CHIP is a good, much-needed plan.

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The program’s mission is a worthy one – to insure the children who fall between the gaps of Medicaid and private insurance would still receive adequate health care.

And it’s truly a shame that more parents whose children are eligible don’t sign up their children.

Mississippi has struggled since CHIP’s inception to enroll all of the children who are believed to be eligible. Marketing the value of CHIP has been a difficult chore.

It’s likely that some folks, we suspect, simply don’t want to have the public stigma of participating in a state social program.

Others simply don’t know about the program. And it’s not for a lack of effort on the part of CHIP’s cheerleaders.

The well-intentioned folks in Jackson have dreamed up a variety of plans to make certain that CHIP reaches its goal.

In the latest plan, the state plans to offer schools $20 for each new student enrolled in the plan. With an estimated 85,000 children believed still to be eligible for the plan, the incentive program might cost $1.7 million.

Musgrove said the funds could come from some of the tobacco settlement money.

We were under the impression the tobacco settlement money was earmarked to help fund outreach programs to keep children from smoking, not to help the state shore up a struggling social program.

And the last time we checked, our schools had their hands full teaching our children and doing all sorts of other parenting chores our society has thrust upon them. Now we’re asking them to screen them for health care, too.

It doesn’t make much sense to us.

We hope the state will reconsider this latest move and opt to use a more conventional method to market the plan.

And leave our money and our schools alone.