HHS Approves Expansion of Maryland CHIP Program
On Nov. 7, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala approved an expansion of HealthChoice, Maryland's CHIP program. The expansion, which increases program eligibility to include families between 200% and 300% of the federal poverty level, is expected to cover an additional 19,600 currently uninsured children. For children covered under the expansion, the state will introduce cost sharing and create a premium assistance program to provide coverage though "employer-sponsored health benefit plans that meet the federal S-CHIP requirements." The premiums for families earning 200-250% FPL will be $38 per family per month. Families with incomes between 250%-300% FPL will pay $47 per month. Those participating families enrolled in the premium assistance program will be exempt from copayments, coinsurance and deductibles imposed by employer plans. In addition, families of American Indian/Alaska Native origin will be exempt from cost sharing, while cost sharing for all other families will not exceed 5% of the family's income. Acceptance of the proposal marks the second expansion of Maryland's CHIP program, which first received HHS approval in 1998 (HHS release, 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.