KIDDIECARE: New Jersey and Connecticut Receive Approval
New Jersey received approval yesterday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its Children's Health Insurance Program, New Jersey KidCare, which will provide health coverage for 102,000 uninsured children, the Bergen Record reports. New Jersey could receive up to $89 million in federal funds this year to use to run its program. That amount "would be matched with $47 million in state funds when the program is fully implemented by the end of the year." Ciro Scalera, executive director of the Association for Children of New Jersey, said, "This is fantastic news for uninsured children in New Jersey, particularly those in working poor families. The governor's plan is a balanced and reasonable one and it will greatly assist families struggling to finance health insurance" (Wiggins, 4/28).
The Jersey Plan
KidCare will both expand Medicaid and introduce a new state plan. The Medicaid expansion will provide comprehensive health care coverage to all children ages 6-19 whose families have incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, which is $16,450 a year for a family of four. The state estimates that an additional 34,000 children will be added to the Medicaid program in the first year. The separate state program will be targeted toward children in families with incomes between 133% and 200% of the poverty level, and will charge families with incomes above 150% of poverty a $15 monthly premium as well as copayments for some services. It will extend coverage to an estimated 68,000 children in the first year. "We are pleased that New Jersey is creating a new CHIP program that will provide a brighter future for thousands of children who otherwise would not have had health coverage," said Nancy-Ann Min DeParle, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration. New Jersey is the tenth state to receive federal approval for CHIP (HHS release, 4/27).
HUSKY For Kids
HHS Secretary Donna Shalala yesterday also announced approval of HUSKY, Connecticut's CHIP plan. Connecticut stands to receive almost $35 million in new federal funds this year, which state officials will use to insure approximately 15,000 children by June 2000. "This is a tremendous achievement. Within the space of seven months, states have put plans in place to cover more than one million children," Shalala said. Connecticut will use its new allocation to both expand its Medicaid population and create a new program based on the state employee's health plan. Under Part A of the state's new HUSKY program, Medicaid eligibility will be expanded to include children ages 14 through 18 with household incomes of up to 185% of the poverty level. Previously, the Medicaid program only covered children up to age 13 in families with incomes up to 185% of poverty. The new insurance program (Part B of HUSKY) will be targeted toward children up to age 18 in families with incomes up to 235% of the poverty level. The state will apply an income disregard -- setting aside certain types of income the family may have -- effectively bringing coverage to 300% of the poverty level. Those between 235% and 300% will be charged a $30 per child premium, with an upper limit of $50 per family. Children with special physical and behavioral health needs who qualify for Part B of the program will receive special services under a third part of the program called HUSKY Plus. Connecticut is the 11th state to receive federal approval for its Kiddiecare plan (HHS release, 4/27).