PeachCare Deadline Passes, Program Still in Danger - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/12/07

PeachCare Deadline Passes, Program Still in Danger

For working mom, Lisa Howell and her son Justin, PeachCare has been a life saver. Without it, he wouldn't have health care. And with her limited income, she wouldn't have the money to get him insured.

"As a working mom, that's just very expensive to have to come up with extra money, especially if he was put into a hospital or had to go to other specialists," she said.

But the Howell's are lucky. As of Monday, no more families can enroll their children in PeachCare. Right now, over 270,000 children are in the program and there's barely enough funding to cover them. The only way the state could save the program is to cut off the number of participants.

"Right now, Georgia can fill the hole and continue the program on a month to month basis. But we can't continue to do that for much longer," said Georgia Senator and President Pro Temp, Eric Johnson.

Senator Johnson says the $735 million proposal from Congress comes with no guarantees. The President gets the final vote, and it's a proposal most feel he's going to veto. Without that money, the PeachCare program could end as early as April.

Dr. Diane Weems is the Chairman of Safety Net Planning Council, a non-profit organization dealing with uninsured families. She says even people already on the program are in danger of losing their eligibility. "If you miss a premium, you will not have an opportunity right now, in this current climate, to re-enroll. So it's important not to miss that payment," said Weems.

With the fate of the program still up in the air, Senator Johnson is cautiously optimistic that PeachCare will continue by re-working the existing program. But it may come at a price for participants. "The number of kids who qualify for it, the amount the premiums are and what services are included on it are all on the table," said Senator Johnson, "We can save PeachCare. At this point, I don't think there's any danger that PeachCare goes away."

The Georgia legislature has been on a hiatus for the past two weeks while the House works on it's budget plan. By next Monday, the state should know how much money they can provide towards the PeachCare program and where they may need to change things up.

Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com

 

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