This column features selected short items about state health care policy.
Warner raising the bar on FAMIS enrollment
RICHMOND, VA—Virginia officials and child health advocates over the next few months will try to sign up more than 6,000 additional children to state-supported child health insurance programs. Currently, 93,000 children are enrolled. The goal is to reach 100,000 additional children enrolled in the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security plan, called FAMIS, and the state Medicaid program, over the course of Gov. Mark R. Warner’s administration that began in 2002. The more enrollment grows, the more children living in low-income and working families can get regular health care instead of relying on emergency departments or delaying treatment as their conditions worsen. By the time school starts in September, Warner said he wants to see an increase in the number of children enrolled during his tenure. "That means that over the summer, during a time that we traditionally see a slowdown in enrollment, we’ll all need to step up our efforts to reach and enroll these uninsured children," he said.
—Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 11
State to lift cap on health insurance plan for poor children
FORT COLLINS, CO—The cap on a Colorado health program intended to help thousands of poor children was to be lifted July 1. The legislature capped enrollment in Child Health Plan Plus at 53,000 last year to help offset a state budget shortfall of nearly $1 billion. The Colorado Health Care Policy and Financing Department, which oversees the program, stopped accepting applications Nov. 1. Department spokeswoman Rhonda Bentz said the cap would be lifted because lawmakers restored some $6 million for the program. "It was very difficult for the department to have to make the decision last fall," she said. "We’re very, very pleased to have the ability to lift the cap." The plan helps children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford private insurance. Enrollment dropped from 52,370 to 43,643 from Nov. 1 to March 30, according to the most recent data available. Officials at the Colorado Community Health Network estimate at least 3,243 children and probably many more were denied coverage because of the freeze.
—Denver Rocky Mountain News/AP, May 17