State Senator Leticia Van De Putte, District 26

For Immediate Release
August 3, 2006

OP-ED

Do You Qualify for CHIP?

As a health care professional and a Legislator instrumental in the implementation of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), I have grown increasingly concerned with CHIP's sharp decline in enrollment. The fall off has mainly been attributed to policy changes, which altered eligibility and reduced the enrollment period from twelve months to every six months. I am aware of the administrative problems many have faced and I assure you my colleagues and I are working hard to correct the situation.

In addition to logistical barriers, there are many people that are not aware that they may qualify for CHIP. CHIP is not a program for those that fall below the poverty level, nor is it free. It is a low-cost insurance plan for the children of working families. It is designed for those who earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but may not be able to afford private insurance. In fact, a family of four can earn up to $40,000 annually and still qualify for CHIP.

My concern is that over half of the children who are eligible to receive CHIP are not enrolled. CHIP enrollment peaked in July 2003, at about a half million, but today enrollment has dropped to below 300,000 children. The program is designed that for every $1 the state puts in, the federal government matches $3, therefore so many dollars that we have available for Texas children are not being utilized. We all work hard and pay federal taxes. It is a shame that our hard-earned tax money is being spent by other states.

In an effort to combat the declining CHIP enrollments, all of San Antonio and Bexar County's Elected Officials, including members of Congress, the Texas Senate and House, the Commissioner's Court and the City Council are working together to host a coordinated CHIP Sign-Up. We are joining the United Way and local agencies to bring San Antonio a Family Wellness Fiesta. We are also proud to partner with Univision's "Conferencia Sobre La Salud de la Mujer Latina y el Beinstar de la Familia."

The Family Wellness Fiesta will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 12, 2006, at the Alamodome. Free parking will be available in Lot A. In addition to the CHIP Sign-Up, the event will include Immunizations, Food Stamp Assistance, Energy & Utility Assistance, Job Training and more, plus games & activities for all ages.

If you plan to apply for CHIP or Children's Medicaid, please be sure to bring proof of family income reflecting current total income (such as a paycheck, recent tax forms, social security statement, child support check, etc.), a proof of amount paid for child care, social security numbers for children and a proof of immigrant status for any child who was not born in the U.S.

For more information, please call 354-2447 or dial 2-1-1. We hope to see you at the Alamodome!

Top