State employees could soon be eligible to enroll their children in a state health care program, according to an announcement today from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Tomblin announced the state is seeking a waiver from the federal government that would allow state employees to enroll their children in the West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP.
“The good health of our children is of the utmost importance,” Tomblin said in the news release. “Through this opportunity, we are seeking to protect and improve our children’s quality of life and future by providing a more affordable insurance option for their families.”
Right now children of state employees are not eligible for CHIP coverage because of federal eligibility restrictions, the release states.
The CHIP program provides coverage for low-income families or for families who have recently lost their health insurance, according to the program website. About 25,000 children were enrolled in the program last year, according to recent reports.
The attempt to expand CHIP coverage is part of the state’s larger process to prepare for health care changes mandated under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The ACA, also called “Obamacare,” changed requirements so the state could consider including people who receive some coverage through the Public Employees Insurance Agency–PEIA–according to the news release.
The state will ask the federal government on Sept. 1 if it can expand the program. It’s asking through an amended state plan, one of many the state anticipates filing as it prepares for changes under the new health care law.
Enrollment in the new health care begins in October, with coverage under the plan available at the start of 2014. The state anticipates it will receive a decision on Jan. 1, 2014. If approved, members of PEIA could potentially start to enroll in the CHIP program by July 1, 2014.
Several organizations, including left-leaning think tank the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy, have advocated for the expansion of CHIP benefits to those currently on PEIA plans.
The state also recently announced it would eliminate the 90-day waiting CHIP enrollment waiting period.