Report Highlights Efforts To Expand Children's Health Coverage

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Children's Health Coverage

Summaries of recent news aboutefforts to reduce the number of uninsured children in Delaware,Montana and Texas appear below.

Delaware

State lawmakers on Wednesdayintroduced bipartisan legislation that would use information from schools toidentify children who are eligible for SCHIP, the Wilmington News Journal reports. The state last yearreturned about $3 million of the $10 million in federal funding it received forSCHIP because not enough children were enrolled in the program. State InsuranceCommissioner Matt Denn said that the money could have provided coverage to1,000 additional children. There were about 4,800 children enrolled in theprogram as of December 2007. The University of Delaware Center for Applied Demography & SurveyResearch estimatesthat about 8,840 uninsured children in the state might qualify for SCHIP.

Under the legislation, school districts would provide the state Department of Health and Social Services with the names of students enrolledin no-cost and reduce-price lunch programs, and the department would then sendinformation to the students' parents (Ratnayake, Wilmington News Journal, 1/10).

Montana

State Auditor and InsuranceCommissioner John Morrison (D) on Monday submitted changes to a proposed ballotmeasure that would expand SCHIP and Medicaid eligibility to an additional30,000 children, the BillingsGazettereports. Morrison in October 2007 submitted, and later withdrew, a similarhealth care initiative, which included a coverage mandate.

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The revised proposal does not include a mandate, but would extend SCHIPeligibility to children in families with incomes up to 250% of the federalpoverty level and Medicaid coverage to children in families with incomes up to185% of the poverty level. In addition, the measure would encourage parents whoalready have health insurance to add their children to the policy and would paythe cost of adding a child to a policy if the family qualifies for Medicaid orSCHIP and the cost of coverage is less than the government-sponsored programs.The measure also would increase outreach efforts to help enroll eligiblechildren in the programs.

Morrison said the expansion, which would take place only if federal funds areavailable, could cost the state as much as $20 million annually and generate upto $70 million a year in federal matching funds. State officials will reviewthe measure before supporters of the initiative can start collecting signaturesto place it on the November ballot (Dennison, Billings Gazette, 1/9).

Texas

State Attorney General Greg Abbott(R) on Wednesday proposed a program designed to provide private health coveragefor the 200,000 uninsured children in the state who are not covered throughtheir parents' employer-sponsored plans or government programs, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Under the plan, a privateinsurer would contract with the state to provide coverage to a pool ofchildren. A court could order parents to purchase coverage based on theirability to pay, and the court could order insurance premiums withheld from aparent's paycheck. Parents would be able to opt out of the program if theyprovide proof of insurance.

Abbott, who announced his proposal at the Texas Public Policy Foundation's annual Policy Orientation for theTexas Legislature, did not give a cost estimate for the program, which wouldrequire legislative changes (MacLaggan, Austin American-Statesman,1/10).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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