HHS has rejected a proposal from New York health officials that would have expanded its childrens health insurance program to cover youngsters in families that earn up to four times the federal poverty level.
In May, New York officials submitted a proposal to HHS that would have effectively allowed children in families that earn more than $80,000 per year to be covered under its State Childrens Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP.
Last month, the CMS released a directive to all states that said they would no longer be allowed to expand their coverage to children from families with income above 250% of the federal poverty level unless they can guarantee that they have successfully enrolled 95% of the eligible children from families below 200% of the poverty level in either SCHIP or Medicaid. New York has 88% of its children below 200% of the poverty level enrolled in its programs. So far, no state has been able to reach that 95% threshold.
In a letter signed by newly tapped CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems, the agency states that New York has not demonstrated that its program operates in an effective and efficient manner when it comes to enrolling the core population of children in families below 200% of the poverty level.
House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) hammered away at the administrations decision, calling it unconscionable.
It is clear the administration is spoiling for a fight and its unfortunate he has chosen childrens healthcare, Rangel said in a written statement.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer railed against the administration's decision and, in a written statement, reiterated his threat of legal action. New York is prepared to pursue legal action to challenge these rules and step up its efforts in conjunction with our congressional delegation and with other states to ensure that healthcare remains affordable and accessible to every family, he said. Twenty-five of the Empire States 29 congressional members signed a letter to the CMS asking the agency to rescind the stricter SCHIP requirements.
On Thursday, Pete Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, said that some federal lawmakers would like to seek out a legislative reversal to the CMS directive, possibly as part of the current SCHIP reauthorization bill.
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your letter to Modern Healthcare Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.