Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) and Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (D) this week are scheduled to make eight stops on a statewide tour to promote a plan designed to expand health coverage to more children under the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program by 2010, the Kentucky Enquirer reports.
Beshear on Wednesday said that it is "shameful and shortsighted" that about 90,000 children in the state do not have health care, even though about 65,000 of them are eligible for coverage under KCHIP. About 55,000 children currently are enrolled in the program (Yetter, Kentucky Enquirer, 9/4). Beshear said the objective of the initiative is to make it easier for 35,000 more children to enroll in KCHIP by implementing several changes, such as eliminating an in-person interview, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
Other changes include employing 28 more staff members to process applications and providing more outreach for the program; developing a simpler application form and giving applicants time to provide missing information; training employees at federally qualified health care centers, no-cost clinics and health departments to help applicants; recruiting applicants through existing programs, such as no-cost and reduced-cost lunch programs; and sending postcards to parents of newborns with information about KCHIP.
The changes to expand enrollment, which will cost the state $31.1 million and require $81.3 million in federal funds over the next two years, will be implemented in eight weeks. At a meeting on Tuesday with the Herald-Leader editorial board, Beshear said the new measures also would reduce the state's expenses for chronic diseases, which account for a significant portion of the state Medicaid budget, and reduce residents' dependence on hospital emergency departments (Vos, Lexington Herald-Leader, 9/4).