Arkansas Campaign To Increase SCHIP Enrollment

Armen Hareyan's picture

Summaries appear below ofrecent news about children's health coverage in Arkansasand New Jersey.

  • Arkansas: The Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families last week announced plans to launch a statewide three-year effort to increase enrollment in ARKids First by about 22,000 children, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. ARKids First is the state's version of SCHIP. According to the group, as many as 70,000 children, or 11% of all children statewide, are uninsured, and about 44,000 of the state's children are eligible but not enrolled in the program. The enrollment initiative is part of the Finish Line Project, which will provide Arkansas with $675,000 over three years and will generate about $264,000 in matching federal funds, according to AACF Director Rich Huddleston. The project will be funded by grants from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. In addition, the group plans to work with lawmakers and the state Department of Human Services to increase income eligibility requirements for ARKids to children in families with incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty level from 200% of the poverty level (Park, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 5/25).
  • New Jersey: As many as 35,000 New Jersey children enrolled in SCHIP could be left without health coverage over the next five years if stricter eligibility requirements proposed by the Bush administration go into effect, according to a recent report by the New Jersey Policy Perspective, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. The SCHIP program has been funded by Congress through March 2009; however, under the new rules, which are scheduled to take effect in August, the federal government would not provide payments to states for SCHIP coverage of children in families with incomes greater than 250% of the poverty level. More than 128,000 children and 80,000 low-income parents are enrolled in the state's version of SCHIP, called NJ FamilyCare; however, new income eligibility requirements could force many out of the program, according to the report. The report states, "The change would be especially painful in New Jersey, where the cost of living is among the highest in the country," adding, "The effects would drastically reduce health coverage for one of the most vulnerable segments of society: New Jersey's children." The report also found that the rules could cost the state $215 million in funding and could lead to a loss of $486 million in business activity and 3,600 jobs in the state (Hepp, Newark Star-Ledger, 5/23).

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