Date: Friday, Aug. 7, 1998 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: HCFA Press Office (202) 690-6145
HHS APPROVES NEBRASKA PLAN TO INSURE MORE CHILDREN
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala announced approval of Nebraska's plan to expand health coverage for thousands of uninsured children through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Nebraska could receive almost $15 million in FY 1998 in new funds under the federal CHIP program -- the historic, bipartisan legislation signed last year by President Clinton. The CHIP law allocates $24 billion over the next five years to help states expand health insurance to children whose families earn too much for traditional Medicaid, yet not enough to afford private health insurance.
In this first phase of its CHIP program, Nebraska plans to expand Medicaid eligibility to nearly 1,000 children who would otherwise not have health insurance. With this approval , Nebraska also secures its allotment to be able to expand its CHIP program in the future. However, Nebraska -- like all states with CHIP plans -- will receive federal matching funds only for actual expenditures on insuring children.
Nebraska is the 28th CHIP plan to be approved in the 11 months since CHIP funds have been available. Together, these 27 states and Puerto Rico anticipate providing health insurance coverage for more than two million currently uninsured children within the next three years. "Too many working parents can't afford health care for their children, and too many children are at risk," Secretary Shalala said. "The Clinton Administration and the states are working together to give children the health care they need to live longer, healthier lives. That's good for all of us."
CHIP gives states three options for devising a plan to cover uninsured children: designing a new children's health insurance program; expanding current Medicaid programs; or a combination of both strategies. HHS must approve each state's plan before CHIP funds become available.
Nebraska will use its CHIP allocation to expand Medicaid coverage to children age 15 through 18 whose family income is at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (the federal poverty level for a family of four is $16,450). This is the first phase of Nebraska's Kids Connection program. For this first phase of the program, all regular Medicaid benefits will be provided. Nebraska has recently submitted its second phase to reach even more children and it is currently under review by HHS.
"The success of the CHIP program has shown an inspiring amount of cooperation between the federal government and the states," said Nancy-Ann DeParle, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), which administers CHIP, Medicaid and Medicare. "It is through those efforts that we will realize the Administration's goal of providing health insurance to those who need it."
"We're pulling together to help hard-working, low-income parents give their kids the same kind of high quality health care others take for granted;" said Claude Earl Fox, M.D., M.P.H., administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the agency working with HCFA and states to implement CHIP. "Free or low-cost health insurance is what families need to ensure their kids can grow up strong and healthy."
For the first year of the program, allotments totaling $4.3 billion are available to states whose plans are approved by HHS by Sept. 30, 1999. In addition to the 28 plans that have been approved -- Alabama, Colorado, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio, California, Illinois, New York, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Oregon, Texas, Idaho, Puerto Rico, Indiana, Utah, North Carolina, Minnesota, Maryland, Arkansas, and Nebraska -- these plans have been submitted: Tennessee, Nevada, Vermont, Montana, the District of Columbia, New Mexico, Maine, New Hampshire, Georgia, Iowa, South Dakota, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, the Virgin Islands, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Delaware, Mississippi and Louisiana.