Clip file / Local news from the states

Each month, this column features selected short items about state health care policy digested from publications from around the country.

Louisiana CHIP plan to cover 28,000 children; Pennsylvania CHIP expansion boosts income limit

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Louisiana won Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) approval to initiate a Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Pennsylvania was granted federal approval to expand its CHIP operations, HCFA announced in late October.

Louisiana officials estimate they will enroll over 28,000 children by the end of fiscal year 2000 and could be eligible for as much as $102 million in new funds under the program. The state will expand Medicaid by raising the income eligibility level for children ages 6 through 18 whose family income is at or below 133% of the federal poverty level (the federal poverty level for a family of four is $16,450). Currently, Louisiana’s Medicaid program covers children ages 6 through 14 whose families have incomes of 100% of federal poverty or less. The program also covers children ages 14 through 18 only if their family incomes are at or below 10% of poverty. The benefit package will be the regular state Medicaid program.

Pennsylvania won approval of a CHIP amendment that will enable the program to cover more than 46,000 children by September 1999. This is in addition to the 63,000 children expected to be covered under the state’s initial plan, which was approved on May 28. The amendment to Pennsylvania’s CHIP plan will further expand eligibility for children from birth to age 18 in families with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level.

Pennsylvania’s program now covers children ages 1 to 16 in families with incomes at or below 185% of poverty. The benefit package under the amendment will be the same as that currently offered through the Pennsylvania CHIP program and includes a full range of inpatient and outpatient services. This amendment also eliminates the $5 copayment for prescription drugs that had been in the original plan. There are no other cost-sharing requirements on families.

Pennsylvania is one of three states that had the benefit package of their existing state children’s health programs grandfathered under CHIP.

—Health Care Financing Administration releases, Oct. 20, Oct. 29