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May 6, 2009 (512) 463-0300

SENATE PASSES BILL TO CREATE CHIP BUY-IN PROGRAM

Sen. Averitt
Senator Kip Averitt of Waco explains his bill to permit certain families to buy-in to the CHIP program.

(AUSTIN) — Parents who make more than the federal poverty level but still cannot afford health coverage could buy into state insurance for their children under a bill passed by the Senate Wednesday. Under current law, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) covers families whose annual income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, about $44,000 for a family of four. "Currently if you make 200 percent plus one dollar, you're not eligible for this program," said bill author Senator Kip Averitt of Waco. "Under this bill, families will have the opportunity to pay part of the premium, so that they can grow into fully paying for their own health insurance for their own children."

SB 841 would create a program where families that make up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, about $66,000 for a family of four, could pay part of the premiums and buy in to CHIP coverage. The proportion paid by the parents would increase as annual income approaches the 300 percent level, but it could not exceed 2.5 percent of the family's annual income. In order to prevent a rush of families swamping the program, the bill sets a 180 day waiting period for applicants above 200 percent federal poverty level. Additionally, parents could not come in and out of the program just when their kids need medical services; if parents drop out of the program, the bill would require them to wait a full year before they could re-enroll their children.

The Senate will reconvene Thursday, May 7 at 7 a.m. to consider Local and Uncontested bills, and will reconvene in regular session at 11 a.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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