Friday, February 23, 2007

Compassionate Conservatism: KidCare

In 2004, Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature halted enrollment into KidCare. The list of children on the waiting list quickly grew. Today it is 700,000. A recorded voice on the KidCare help line told listeners, ""It is not possible to tell you where your child is on the wait list or how soon he or she will be enrolled."

Bush refused to use money from the federal economic stimulus package to help fund KidCare. The result did the opposite of saving money. Florida lost $20 million in federal matching funds. There was a willing effort not to serve poor children.

Some Republicans have admitted it was a mistake a few years ago when the GOP-controlled Legislature intentionally made it harder to enroll by requiring more documentation.

The Legislature also stopped spending money on active outreach -- having caseworkers go into communities to try to make sure families know about KidCare.

''If you don't know about the program, how will you be able to participate?'' asked Rep. Joyce Cusack, D-DeLand.

Miss Cusack, that was the whole point. Conservatives view government medical programs as socialism. It doesn't matter if many children with life threatening illnesses were denied doctor visits. Ideology is so much more important. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities refused to give Kevin Estinfil thermal blankets worth $360. They would rather spend thousands of taypayer dollars fighting in court. Kevin can not regulate his body temperature. He freezes without the blanket. But conservative principles must be maintained.

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