Feds Provide $6 billion for CHIP Expansion

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , June 19, 2009

The Department of Health and Human Services today released $6 billion in new Children's Health Insurance Program funding that is expected to expand coverage to an additional 4 million children this year.

The new funds were placed in the CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2009, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Feb. 4. CHIPRA provides additional funding that will help states and territories maintain existing CHIP enrollment and expand their programs.

"We are taking an important step to provide quality, affordable health care to millions of children," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says. "Through CHIPRA, states and territories will receive additional funds to provide health insurance to 11 million children, including 4 million who were previously uninsured. Parents now have more help if their children fall ill."

Of the $6 billion in new funding under CHIPRA, HHS has released more than $1 billion and expects to allocate the remainder to the states and territories by the end of September. CHIP provides health insurance for children of working families whose incomes are too high for traditional Medicaid, but too low for either employer-sponsored family plans or other private coverage.

While CHIP is optional, each state and every territory operates a program. Similar to Medicaid, CHIP is jointly funded by states and the federal government.  However, the federal government pays states a higher share of their CHIP costs than for their Medicaid programs.

CHIPRA gives states the option to provide children with "Express Lane Eligibility," in which Medicaid and CHIP eligibility requirements may be satisfied based on information available through other government agencies.

A list of funding by state for CHIP can be found at: www.insurekidsnow.gov.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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