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HHS APPROVES KANSAS PLAN TO INSURE MORE CHILDREN
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today announced approval of Kansas' plan to expand health coverage for thousands of uninsured children through the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Kansas could receive as much as $30 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. Kansas officials estimate they will insure as many as 30,000 children by the end of 2000.
Kansas is the 33rd CHIP plan to be approved in the 11 months since CHIP funds have been available. Together, these 32 states and Puerto Rico anticipate providing health insurance coverage for more than two million currently uninsured children within the next three years. Iowa and Delaware CHIP plans were also approved today, bringing the total plans approved to 34, including 33 states and Puerto Rico.
"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," said HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala. "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.
Kansas will use its CHIP allocation to create a separate insurance program, HealthWave, for children through age-18 whose families have incomes of less than 200 percent of poverty (the federal poverty level for a family of four is $16,450).
The benefit package for children enrolled in CHIP will be the same as that offered to state employees. Families with incomes above 150 percent of the federal poverty level must pay a monthly premium. Families with income between 151 and 175 percent of poverty will pay $10 per month per family and families between 176 and 200 percent of poverty will pay $15 per month per family.
"The success of the CHIP program will assure millions of children across the nation access to the kind of health care that is so critical to a bright future," said Nancy-Ann DeParle, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), which administers CHIP, Medicaid and Medicare. "The cooperation between the federal government and the states will help 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 33 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 and Kansas -- these states have submitted plans: Tennessee, Montana, the District of Columbia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, the Virgin Islands, North Dakota, Arizona, Delaware, Mississippi and Louisiana.