HHS APPROVES VIRGINIA'S PLAN TO INSURE MORE CHILDREN
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today announced approval of Virginia's plan to expand health coverage for thousands of uninsured children through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Virginia could receive as much as $68 million 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. Virginia, like all states with CHIP plans, will receive federal matching funds only for actual expenditures to insure children.
Virginia officials estimate they will insure nearly 54,000 children by October 2000. Virginia is the 44th CHIP plan to be approved in the first year of the CHIP program. Together, these plans anticipate providing health insurance coverage for more than 2.3 million currently uninsured children within the next three years.
"It is gratifying to see so many states taking advantage of this wonderful new program to help working parents obtain health insurance for their children," 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.
Virginia will use its federal allotment to create a separate insurance program, the Virginia Children's Medical Security Insurance Plan. The plan has two components, the first of which will serve children under age 19 whose families have incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level (the federal poverty level for a family of four is $16,450). The second phase, which will begin at a later date, will bring in children under age 19 in families with incomes up to 185 percent of poverty. The difference between the two components is that families with incomes between 150 percent and 185 percent of poverty will have out-of-pocket costs imposed at a later date through an amendment to this plan. The benefit package will be comprehensive and include inpatient and outpatient care, laboratory services, and substance abuse treatment.
"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 44 plans which 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, Nebraska, Maine, Nevada, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Delaware, Georgia, Montana, New Hampshire, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Arizona, Nebraska, North Dakota, Louisiana and Virginia -- these states have submitted plans: Tennessee, New Mexico, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alaska and Hawaii.