SENATOR MURKOWSKI SUPPORTS CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Murkowski today joined her colleagues in the Senate in supporting the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP provides comprehensive health care coverage to low-income and uninsured children.
“The Children’s Health Insurance Program extends vital health insurance to the most vulnerable segments of our population – low income children and children of the working poor,” said Senator Murkowski. “This CHIP bill will provide performance bonuses to states that enroll only the lowest income children in the state, those eligible for Medicaid. I urge the President to support this bi-partisan legislation.”
CHIP was enacted in 1997 and originally allowed states to provide health coverage for families earning up to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The bill passed today allows states to expand coverage to children from families earning up to 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level – this is equivalent to $77,460 for a family of four in Alaska. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Congressional Research Services, 21 states, including Alaska, will run out of money in the coming year if CHIP is not extended.
The reauthorization extends coverage for over 6 million children currently enrolled in the program and expands the program to include an additional 3.5 million eligible low-income children and children of the working poor. In addition, the legislation establishes a new allotment formula to determine each state’s share of annual CHIP appropriations. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Alaska will receive $35.6 million in Fiscal Year 2008 under this bill, an increase of $24.4 million over the current law baseline funding. Additionally, performance bonuses will be provided to States that exceed enrollment targets in Medicaid to cover children who are eligible but not enrolled.
The CHIP reauthorization bill also provides grants to fund outreach and enrollment efforts to increase coverage of eligible Medicaid and CHIP children. The bill provides $10 million for Native American Outreach to provide grants to Indian organizations to improve enrollment of Native Americans. $80 million is allotted to a Federal Grant Program which requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to prioritize funding for entities that target rural areas with high rates of eligible but not enrolled children, racial and ethnic minorities, and populations with cultural and linguistic barriers to enrollment.