Getting Kids Insurance

Enrollment for the Children's Health Insurance Program, otherwise known as CHIP, has seen its numbers go up. Advocates for CHIP say that's because the enrollment process has been simplified. Capella Tucker reports those same advocates hope state lawmakers will make the same changes to the Medicaid system.
Advocates for CHIP wants to see the enrollment numbers coninue to climb. The Children's Defense Fund reports in the last eight months, 110-thousand more children have been added to CHIP. Laura Guerra-Cardus says that's because of changes to the program in the last legislative session. Namely, families have to reapply once a year instead of every six months.

"And we enrolled more than 50-thousand children in just two months. So that's half of the children that were enrolled in the last eight months. So what does that tell us, that 12 months coverage is essential to keep eligible children enrolled. We've done it for CHIP and now we need to do it for medicaid."

The Medicaid program still has a six month requirement. Even with the increasing numbers of children, Guerra- Cardus says more work needs to be done to make sure eligible families stay enrolled.

"Currently it's understaffed, undertrained and underequipped. The computer systems that we're using are very slow. We haven't met the federal statute for timeliness in over two years now."

For others the problem is making just a little too much money to qualify. Kyla Hebert has a toddler with a neurological disorder. She's been cancelling doctors appointments since losing insurance coverage for her daughter.

"The only plan that will accept Katy as she is with her pre-existing conditions is the CHIP plan, but we're $260 dollars over the monthly limit. Because of that my husband has asked it will cap him out at work ... it will cap him out at work, he won't be eligible for raises or promotions it just shouldn't be that way ... in order to provide for his children."

Children's advocates want the state legislature to consider allowing families, such as Hebert, to pay into CHIP. It costs the state 40 dollars per child per month. They would like to see a sliding scale established that would allow families to purchase insurance from CHIP based on their income levels.

Capella Tucker. KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

Capella Tucker

Director of Content

Capella Tucker joined KUHF in the spring of 1994 as a part-time reporter. She quickly gained a full-time position when she took over production duties for

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