Uncovering kids: 89,000 Pennsylvania kids slashed from Medicaid

As Catholic Republican Representative Paul Ryan's extremely hurtful-to-the-poor, anti-life budget proposal is hailed by Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and "devout" Catholic (Cardinal Timothy Dolan's term) Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania as well as by Catholic Republican House Speaker John Boehner, there is this story from Pennsylvania, in which 89,000 poor kids were unilaterally removed from the state's Medicaid rolls.

Meanwhile, the Affordable Care Act is at risk of being ruled unconstitutional by activist, Catholic, conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices. A stadium full of "devout" Catholic Republicans are praying for, and cheering on, Ryan, Boehner, Romney and Santorum and those justices.

What gives?

It's Twilight Zone time in the Catholic church.

Cardinal Dolan ought to publicly admit he and his fellow bishops have failed to educate, to evangelize Catholic Republicans on Catholic social teaching. This would be akin to the failure to educate Catholics on the value of not using contraception, which Cardinal Dolan admitted this past weekend in the Wall Street Journal.

It's time to prohibit Catholic institutions from honoring Republican elected officials who are so far removed from implementing laws reflecting the Gospel values found in Catholic social teaching. The schizophrenia found in many Catholic Republicans needs to be dealt with in a manner similar to Catholic Democrats who face a closed door at Catholic institutions because of their support of gay rights, contraception and pro-choice laws. It is right and just. Otherwise, the U.S. bishops, who are so closely aligned with conservative Republicans, risk becoming known as the Party of Hypocrisy.

Budgets are moral documents. They have consequences. They affect peoples' lives. Ask the parents whose kids were slashed from the Medicaid rolls in Pennsylvania.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

KHELI Muhammad was trying to schedule a routine pediatrician's appointment last summer when she discovered that her 2-year-old son, who has a congenital heart disorder, had been kicked off the Medicaid rolls.

The 30-year-old mother of two boys was stunned.

"It is written in stone that he's covered," Muhammad said of Samad, who qualifies for Medicaid based on his serious medical condition, not the family's income level. "He's pacemaker-dependent ... [H]is heart will not beat without a pacemaker."

But the heartbeat of the fragile little Samad was clearly not a priority for welfare officials, who informed Muhammad that she had failed to renew his benefits -- even though she said she had not received renewal paperwork in the mail -- and that she'd have to reapply.

It took the frantic mother a week to get her son -- who has frequent doctor's appointments and needs special medications -- back on the books.

"I didn't even get a notice that he would be canceled," said Muhammad, who lives in Overbrook with Samad and her husband and an older son. "Nothing had been sent to my house. Because of my son's condition, it's not something that would have slipped by."

Samad Muhammad is not the region's only kid to wake up without health-care coverage in recent months. At least 89,000 children vanished from the state Medicaid rolls between August and January -- roughly 25,000 of them in Philadelphia, according to the state Department of Public Welfare.

Most of those kids -- about 71,000 statewide -- were removed as part of a massive effort to clear a backlog of recipients whose paperwork was not up to date, according to DPW spokeswoman Anne Bale. Medicaid recipients must file paperwork to renew their eligibility every six months, upon receiving documents from DPW.

But many of the children were wrongfully kicked off, and 23,180 have been reinstated in the program so far.

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