North Carolina to Freeze CHIP Enrollment Due to Maximum Participation
Having reached "maximum" estimated enrollment in Health Choice for Children, North Carolina's CHIP program for "uninsured children of the state's working poor," the state will freeze program enrollment beginning Jan. 1, the Charlotte Observer reports. State officials say the freeze could leave as many as 30,000 eligible North Carolina children without health coverage. June Milby, state CHIP program coordinator, said that North Carolina is the first state forced to cap its CHIP program due to participation levels. More than 69,000 children are in the program currently, and "[w]e're averaging getting 1,000 new children a week in this state," Milby said. While the high enrollment reflects the state's success in enrolling children in the program, Milby indicated that the freeze also reveals that the U.S. Census formulas used to calculate the number of children eligible, and subsequently the state's CHIP funding allotment, are "badly flawed." Based on Census figures, the federal government estimated that approximately 71,000 North Carolina children would qualify for the CHIP program. Milby believes that number to be closer to 100,000, and the program's 1999 annual report puts the figure at around 126,000. Despite the freeze, children already enrolled in Health Choice for Children will be allowed to re-enroll "as usual." However, eligible children who apply after Jan. 1 will be placed on a waiting list and enrolled as program slots become available "through attrition or additional funding" (Quillin, Charlotte Observer, 11/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.