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The Education Of The Frost Family

SCHIP recipients draw ire of conservatives

Sun Follow-up

October 10, 2007|By Matthew Hay Brown | Matthew Hay Brown,SUN REPORTER

Soon strangers were posting accusatory messages describing Halsey Frost as a business owner who lived on a street of half-million-dollar homes, worked out of his own commercial property and paid to send his children to private school, yet still took advantage of government-funded health care.

"Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices," Mark Steyn wrote on the National Review Online. "But, if this is the face of the `needy' in America, then no-one is not needy."

The Redstate contributor was less civil.

"Hang 'em. Publically," the contributor wrote. "Let 'em twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens. Then maybe the bunch of socialist patsies will think twice."

The Frosts say the description of their family's circumstances now circulating is misleading. Halsey, they say, is a self-employed woodworker - he has no employees - while Bonnie works part time for a medical publishing firm. Together, they say, they earn between $45,000 and $50,000 a year.

That would make the Frosts eligible for Maryland's Children's Health Program, which is open to families that earn no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or $82,830 a year for a family of six.

The Frosts declined to show The Sun their 2006 income tax returns, and the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would not confirm their enrollment in the program. But John G. Folkemer, the deputy secretary for health care financing, said yesterday that applicants must prove their income levels through Social Security numbers or tax returns to be accepted for coverage.

Folkemer said a family's assets are not considered in determining eligibility. Halsey Frost purchased the family home for $55,000 in 1990, according to city records, and refinanced in 2005, he says, to make improvements to accommodate the return of Graeme and Gemma from the hospital. The 1936 brick rowhouse, on a side street near Patterson Park, has an assessed value of $263,140.

Halsey Frost purchased a 1920 warehouse in East Baltimore for $160,000 in 1999, according to city records. It is assessed at $160,500. Frost says he is still paying off the mortgages on both properties.

The four Frost children depend on financial aid to attend private school, the Frosts say. In addition, they say, Gemma receives money from the city for special education made necessary by her injuries.

Halsey and Bonnie Frost say they still have no health insurance. Bonnie Frost said she priced coverage recently at $1,200 a month.

Malkin wrote that the Democrats' use of Graeme Frost to deliver the radio address was "poster child abuse"; Limbaugh told listeners that Democrats had "filled this kid's head with lies."

Pelosi fired back yesterday.

"I think that the attack on this family is just breaking new ground and stooping to new lows in terms of what happens in Washington, D.C.," she told reporters. "I think it's a sad statement about how bankrupt some of these people are in their arguments against SCHIP that they attack a 12-year-old."

The Frosts say they stand by their support of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

"I'm just trying to understand this moment of nastiness," Bonnie Frost said. "The nastiness caught me by surprise."

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Lynn Anderson contributed to this article.

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