Louisiana Health and Hospitals Secretary Proposes Increasing Income Limits for State’s CHIP
Under part of a legislative package Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary David Hood will "push" in the 2001 Legislature, the state would expand its CHIP to cover children in families with annual incomes three times the federal poverty level, or $50,000 for a family of four, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. Children in families with annual incomes 50% above the poverty level ($16,700 for a family of four) now can enroll in the program, which is operated through the state's Medicaid program. In January, the program will expand to cover children in families with annual incomes two times the poverty level, or $33,000 for a family of four. Although parents currently do not pay premiums to secure benefits for their children, Hood's plan calls for premiums and copayments. The proposed plan would cost an estimated $50 million-$60 million in federal and state funds. The Advocate reports that the legislative package is an attempt to "expand primary care for Louisiana citizens," and includes increased payments to primary care providers, particularly rural providers; tax incentives for rural physicians; and financial incentives for medical students training in rural areas. Noting that 44 out of Louisiana's 64 parishes have doctor and nurse shortages, Hood said, "[T]hat's part of the reason why Louisiana has high rates of diabetes, tuberculosis, cancer, heart disease and infant mortality." He added that "it is critical to improve primary care throughout the state to improve health" (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 11/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.