Federal File: Healthy Pork?; Status Quo

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What supporters describe as a bold new federal initiative to provide health insurance to low-income children is just a slice of razorback pork, in the eyes of the federal officials who are going to have to provide the money for the program.

Senator Dale Bumpers, Democrat of Arkansas, announced recently that the Department of Housing and Urban Development had given the University of Arkansas a $lmillion grant to provide health services to uninsured children in two poor Mississippi Delta communities.

But the program, which eventually may be expanded statewide, is the type of good idea that HUD would rather not be part of, an official of the federal agency said last week.

"HUD does not ordinarily do health care," the official said, explaining that Mr. Bumpers had tacked funding for the program onto a 1991 @[email protected] appropriations bill that also includes $53 million in other special-purpose grants.

Secretary of HUD Jack F. Kemp has argued that the special grants should cease, with the beneficiaries forced to compete for federal funding from the proper sources. .

Frank Blount, president and chief executive officer of the New American Schools Development Corporation, faced a skeptical audience last week at a White House conference on historically black colleges and universities.

The black educaters hammered him with questions about how the new schools would be developed, who would select school designs, how the new schools would figure into President Bush's choice plan--and why business people are qualified to meddle in education.

"We really need some people from the trenches on these national beards--people who have dayto-day contact with a wide range of students," said Leslie Burl McLemore, a professor of political science at Jackson State University. '@lb see you, my friend, stand there from Columbus, Ga., and talk about changing the status quo, well, the business community has sought to preserve the status quo."

Added James L. Faulk, of Miles College in Birmingham, Ala.: "You have been part of the problem. Unless you get a Hispanic up there and an Asian, I can hear what you're saying, but I can't believe it."

Mr. Blount, who is white, noted that Earl Graves, editor and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine and one of the most prominent black businessmen in the United States, is on the beard of the new-schools corporation. He also said the beard is looking for an additional five or six members to increase its diversity. --P.S. & M.P.

Vol. 11, Issue 03, Page 1

Published in Print: September 18, 1991, as Federal File: Healthy Pork?; Status Quo
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