UTAH: Governor To Sign Kiddiecare Bill Today
Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) will sign a bill today extending health coverage to 30,000 children from low-income families, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Like other Kiddiecare initiatives, the bill targets children "whose parents earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid but can't afford commercial insurance," specifically those whose family incomes range between 101% and 200% of the federal poverty level. "The bill sets up the state's Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which is expected to begin enrollment in late spring," the Tribune reports. Health Policy Commission Executive Director Patrick Johnson said, "[P]eople do not need to be on welfare to qualify for it. ... Our goal is to charge a fee when we can, but not allow the fee to be a barrier to accessing care." The state will cover its share of the program's costs with $6 million generated from a hospital bed tax. This money will be matched by $24.2 million in federal funds.
All Bases Covered
The plan will subsidize routine checkups for babies and children, surgical and dental screenings, immunizations and generic drugs. Copayments ranging between $10 and $30 will be charged "for emergency-room visits and physician services," while deductibles ranging between 10% and 50% will be required for "inpatient and outpatient services, use of sophisticated medical equipment and X-rays, brand-name prescription drugs and inpatient and outpatient mental-health services." Ten thousand children are expected to sign up in the first year. The program also includes an outreach initiative to identify and sign up 15,000 children believed to be eligible for Medicaid, but not currently enrolled. "The state has to submit its CHIP program plan to the federal Health Care Financing Administration for approval before enrollment can begin," the Tribune notes. Utah Department of Health Executive Director Rod Betit "also must put together a citizens council to advise the department on decisions regarding CHIP" (Wagner, 3/23).