The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 18, 2013

A brighter tomorrow

CHIP waiting period set to be eliminated from program

BECKLEY — Things are becoming a little brighter for children in low-income families across our state.

The waiting period for enrollment in West Virginia’s Children’s Health Insurance Program is set to be eliminated.

Last week, the Children’s Health Insurance Agency board voted to eliminate the 90-day waiting period prior for enrollment in the program for West Virginia children who are uninsured, effective Oct. 1.

West Virginia CHIP was created to help working families who do not have health insurance for their children.

Any significant waiting period was not a good idea in this case. Because it is the children who would suffer.

For 90 days.

CHIP provides many essential services for children:

- Dental

- Doctor’s office visits

- Hospitalization

- Immunizations

- Mental health/chemical dependency services

- Prescriptions

- Preventive care

- Urgent care /after-hours clinic visits

- Vision care

- Case management for special needs

And more, including tests, X-rays, physical therapy, speech therapy, medical equipment and allergy services.

The change comes at a good time.

According to a recent Associated Press report, CHIP covers about 25,000 state residents ages 18 and under. CHIP Director Sharon Carte told the AP that as Medicaid coverage expands, many children under the coverage will move to Medicaid. And a lesser number of children could move from Medicaid to CHIP due to changes in income rules for Medicaid. Citing the actuarial report, Carte said it’s possible that CHIP enrollment could drop to about 17,000, adding, “We’ll just have to see how it all plays out. A lot will depend on how many families enter the (Affordable Care Act) exchange in the first year.”

Whatever one’s stance is with the Affordable Care Act or health care in general, one thing is for sure, our children cannot be caught in the middle.

Waiting 90 days for assistance could have very well meant tragic results in struggling homes across our state.

A smooth process just makes sense.

For more information on West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance Program, visit www.chip.wvgov.