HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today approved a plan by New York State to streamline the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to make it easier for children to remain enrolled.
Today's approval allows New York to use a simplified application for children when they renew their SCHIP eligibility each year.
"I am pleased to approve this simplification of New York's SCHIP application," Secretary Thompson said. "We have always encouraged states to make enrollment in SCHIP as well as Medicaid as simple as possible. Complicated application forms can sometimes prevent eligible families from getting the care they need for their children."
The new application is shorter and will require families to provide less information than in the past. For example, instead of requiring families to submit documentation of income, the state will verify income with the New York Department of Tax and Finance. In addition, HHS is allowing New York to give children a two-month grace period if the renewal application is not complete.
"As a physician, I know how important it is for young children to have continuous access to routine, preventive medical care," said Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency within HHS that oversees the SCHIP program. "This new plan will help more kids maintain a medical home and receive continual care that can prevent long-term health problems."
SCHIP is a state/federal partnership program signed into law in 1997 with a budget of $40 billion over 10 years. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories have an SCHIP program which provides health insurance coverage to children in families with incomes too high for traditional Medicaid, but yet not enough to afford private coverage. Nationwide, the SCHIP program provided health coverage to about 5.8 million children at some point in fiscal year 2003.