Texas Senate Passes CHIP Expansion Bill, Avoiding Legislative Backlog, Deadlines
The Texas Senate on Wednesday voted to approve a bill that would boost enrollment in the state's version of CHIP, the Houston Chronicle reports. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Kip Averitt (R), would raise the income eligibility threshold for the program to 200% of the federal poverty level for a family of four. Families' premiums, copayments and fees would not exceed 5% of their net income, under the bill (Elliott, Houston Chronicle, 5/28).
Supporters of the bill say that it could extend CHIP coverage to as many as 80,000 uninsured children statewide (AP/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5/28). The bill now moves back to the state House for approval. The House approved legislation last month that would have expanded CHIP to families with annual incomes up to $88,000. Averitt said the measure, which he attached to a House bill on disease screening for newborns, is similar to a bill that passed the Senate in March.
According to the Chronicle, the state budget being finalized this week includes $43 million to expand CHIP, which would draw down federal matching funds (Houston Chronicle, 5/28).