Virginia Officials Await Federal Approval for Revised CHIP AsProgram Enrollment Grows:
While enrollment in the state's CHIP, the Children's Medical Security Insurance Plan, continues to "creep upward," Virginia officials are waiting for HCFA officials to approve a "revamped version" of the program, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Because "[w]orking-poor parents have been reluctant to accept what they might feel is public aid," only 28,363 children out of a total CMSIP-eligible 65,000 uninsured children have enrolled. The revised plan, which the General Assembly passed in March and state officials submitted to federal officials in June, "aims to remove the 'public aid' stigma." Available since October 1998, the current plan requires parents to apply for assistance through their local social services department. Under the revised program, the state would allow parents of eligible children to use employer-sponsored insurance, while the state pays "their children's bills." Claude Allen, state secretary of health and human resources, said that the revised plan "will move Virginia's current children's health insurance program to an employer, private-based model that will offer Virginia families health care insurance with dignity and more simplicity than a government-run system." Although Virginia expected the federal government to rule on the revision by Sept. 20, HCFA "has stopped the approval process three times to ask detailed questions," the Times-Dispatch reports. State Department of Medical Assistance Services spokesperson Amy Atkinson said, "They've asked all sorts of questions. They've asked some of the same questions addressed in the first program." In the meantime, the state "continues to enroll children and educate the public about the current plan," the Times-Dispatch reports. If the new plan is approved, children covered under the current plan "will automatically" be enrolled in the new program (Setegn, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.