Governor Haley Barbour today urged the state’s Congressional delegation to oppose pending federal legislation to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) because it severely shortchanges Mississippi.

In a letter to Mississippi’s Congressional delegation Governor Barbour said, “I cannot support a bill that does not give Mississippi enough money to fulfill the original intent of the program while allowing other states the opportunity to expand their programs to cover higher-income children and adults who don’t have any children.”

Even a proposed new funding formula would leave Mississippi’s FY 2008 federal allotment nearly $100 million short of the amount needed to cover all children under 200% of the federal poverty level. “In other words, Mississippi would still be shortchanged by an enormous amount of money,” Governor Barbour said.

Governor Barbour also told lawmakers the state’s position on S-CHIP was inaccurately reported in a recent article in a state newspaper.

“The Clarion-Ledger inaccurately reported that I met with Secretary Leavitt to ask for an increase in Mississippi’s S-CHIP match rate. I am not requesting an increase in the match rate; Mississippi needs for the formula to be changed so that the federal government will pay the full amount of its share. If the formula is so changed, Mississippi can cover the remaining 71,000 uninsured children at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, as the program originally intended.”

The Clarion-Ledger also incorrectly reported there were insufficient state funds in the program. “That is not what I said and neither is it correct. The state appropriated sufficient funding for the state’s 17% match. The required federal funds are lacking and the flawed funding formula in the conference agreement – even with the billions of dollars in proposed new spending nationally – would still severely shortchange Mississippi.

“I cannot support an S-CHIP bill that shortchanges Mississippi to such a degree we cannot provide insurance to all our children at 200% federal poverty level, but that bill allows wealthy states to provide insurance under S-CHIP to children up to 400%. Therefore, I urge you to oppose the conference agreement due to inequities in the funding formula,” Governor Barbour’s letter says.

Governor Barbour