HHS APPROVES NEW JERSEY EXPANSION OF CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala has approved New Jersey's proposal to expand health insurance coverage to uninsured children through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
The state's NJ KidCare program currently operates both a Medicaid CHIP expansion plan (NJ KidCare plan A) and a separate state CHIP plan (NJ KidCare plan B and plan C) which have already enrolled nearly 35,000 children. State officials expect today's approved amendment to provide health insurance to an additional 9,000 children by September 1999. The amendment will increase income eligibility levels.
New Jersey is eligible to receive as much as $88 million in new funds for fiscal year 1999 under the federal CHIP program, the historic, bipartisan legislation signed by President Clinton in 1997. The CHIP law allocates $24 billion over 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. The state will be eligible for an additional $88 million in fiscal year 2000.
New Jersey, like all states with CHIP plans, will receive federal matching funds only for actual expenditures to insure children. Together, the 52 state and U.S. territorial plans that have been approved to date anticipate providing health insurance coverage for more than 2.5 million currently uninsured children within three years.
"The Clinton administration and the states are working together to give children the health care they need to live longer, healthier lives," said Secretary Shalala. "It's a pleasure to approve New Jersey's amendment, and I look forward to more states expanding their CHIP programs in the future."
CHIP gives states three options for devising a plan to cover uninsured children: designing a new and separate children's health insurance program; expanding current Medicaid programs; or combining both strategies. HHS must approve each state's plan before CHIP funds become available.
This amendment--NJ KidCare Plan D--will offer managed health care coverage to uninsured children through age 18 whose families have incomes, slightly higher than those in Plans A-C, from 200 - 350 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). The FPL is $16,700 for a family of four. Families at this income level will be charged monthly premiums on a sliding scale. Families will also be charged copayments for some services. Under the CHIP statute, a family's cost cannot exceed 5 percent of its annual income.
"The New Jersey amendment is a positive demonstration that CHIP is working and that states are enthusiastic about this program," said Nancy-Ann DeParle, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration, which administers CHIP, Medicaid and Medicare. "It is through efforts like this 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, 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. CHIP plans have been approved in 52 U.S. states and territories. In order of their approval, they are: 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, Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, Arizona, North Dakota, Louisiana, Virginia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alaska, Vermont, New Mexico, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa.