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Students lobby for health bill

Feb. 20, 2001

Members of social work school to meet with state congressmen

By LACY ELWOOD

Reporter

Students from the School of Social Work will meet with state Reps. Kip Averitt (R-Waco), Jim Dunnam (D-Waco) and Sen. David Sibley (R-Waco) today at the sixth bi-annual Social Work Day at the state legislature in Austin.

The students will first assemble at the Frank Erwin Center on The University of Texas at Austin campus to hear about issues concerning Central Texas. At noon, approximately 1,000 students meeting from across the state will march to the steps of the Texas Capitol to hear from Sen. Mike Moncrief (D-Fort Worth).

'They [students and legislators] are going to focus on one issue: Medicaid simplification,' Dr. Dennis Myers, professor of social work, said. 'This is an effort to make available health insurance to persons in poverty, especially children.'

Texas holds the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation. According to a Jan. 24 Houston Chronicle article, of the 1.4 million uninsured children in Texas, nearly half are eligible for Medicaid but are not enrolled because the process requires personal interviews every six months, lengthy documentation and up to 14 forms.

The 80 Baylor students participating will split up into three groups to discuss Medicaid simplification with one of the local legislators.

'We are proposing a bill that's already on the table to make Medicaid more like CHIPs [Children's Health Insurance Program],' Melissa Corley, a College Station senior said. 'We are trying to get the Medicaid application to be less lengthy, to make it easier to apply for and easier to get Medicaid for children.'

Students will also sit in on the legislature as it makes and proposes bills.

'It's a great opportunity,' Corley said. 'I think it will be a neat experience to find out how the legislature works and to find out how it feels to lobby for something you believe in.'