The General Accounting Office (GAO) has a long history of genuine independence from the reigning powers in Washington regardless of party. They have been in the past fearless protectors of taxpayers and undaunted by presidents who thought they ought to shut up. While that reputation has suffered somewhat during the Bush Administration, their legal dept has finally weighed in on a controversial issue and slapped The Emperor down in no uncertain terms.
The Bush administration violated federal law last year when it restricted states’ ability to provide health insurance to children of middle-income families, and its new policy is therefore unenforceable, lawyers from the Government Accountability Office said Friday.
The ruling strengthens the hand of at least 22 states, including New York and New Jersey, that already provide such coverage or want to do so. And it significantly reduces the chance that the new policy can be put into effect before President Bush leaves office in nine months.
Better late than never, I suppose. At least they've stopped Bush's anti-children health policy from screwing up any more lives for the time being, and it's unlikely the new Democratic president would dare follow in his footsteps, BD's or no BD's.
We haven't had any good news around kids' health for quite a while. This isn't much but it's something to be happy about, and that's been rare. (That Bush finally got some comeuppance is a bennie, I grant you.) Unfortunately, Bush's Boy on the Scene says he plans to ignore the GAO's finding.
In a formal legal opinion Friday, the accountability office said the new policy “amounts to a marked departure” from a longstanding, settled interpretation of federal law. It is therefore a rule and, under a 1996 law, must be submitted to Congress for review before it can take effect, the opinion said.
The letter told states what steps they needed to take to be sure the children’s health program would not displace or “crowd out” private coverage under group health plans. The White House cited the policy as a justification for rejecting a proposal by New York State to cover 70,000 additional youngsters.