CHIP: Texas, Minnesota Plan Expansions
"After weeks of political wrangling," the Texas Senate Health Services Committee reached a compromise last week on an expansion of the state's Children's Health Insurance Program. Under the expansion, children up to age 10 in families that earn up to twice the federal poverty level will be covered. In a compromise with those who wanted the extension to cover only families earning up to 150% of the poverty level, children between ages 11-18 would initially only be covered in families with incomes up to 150% of the poverty level. The state Health and Human Services Commission would then monitor the "program's enrollment every six months to determine whether the state can afford to ratchet up the income levels for older kids." An estimated 1.4 million children in the state are without health insurance, giving Texas one of the nation's highest rates of uninsured children. More than 220,000 children will be eligible for the program under the expansion (Greenberger, Austin American- Statesman, 3/5).
An expansion of Minnesota's MinnesotaCare program has been proposed that would cover "17,000 children in families that qualify for health insurance with their employers, but are unable to pay for it." Depending on the final proposal, the cutoff level would be either 200% or 275% of the federal poverty level and there would be a sliding-scale premium. An estimated 76,000 children in the state are uninsured. A bill has been introduced to authorize the changes to the program; Gov. Jesse Ventura (I) hasn't commented on the bill, but state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said it's "exactly the kind of idea he's interested in pursuing" (O'Conner, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 3/4).
Kentucky has received two bids for providers to participate in the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program (KCHIP). The University of Louisville's University Health Care Inc. is proposing to cover the western area of the state, and the University of Kentucky's CHA HMO of Lexington the eastern portion. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the "bids encouraged some members of the General Assembly's Program Review and Investigation Committee, who had questioned why implementation of KCHIP seemed to be crawling along" (Richardson, 3/5).