Hawaii is dropping its universal healthcare plan for children on Nov. 1, just seven months after launching the first-in-the-nation pilot program. The Keiki Care Plan aimed to provide coverage to children whose families made too much money to qualify for Medicaid but could not afford private insurance. The state says it failed to enroll these gap group children and instead is subsidizing coverage for kids who qualify for other programs or whose parents halted their private insurance to join.
Some 2,000 children have enrolled in the Keiki Care Plan (keiki means child in Hawaiian) since it began in April. The state pays Hawaiis largest private insurerthe Hawaii Medical Service Association, or HMSA, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield company$25.50 per month for each child enrolled. No federal matching funds are available, and HMSA picks up the other half of the cost per child, with parents paying some co-payments but no premiums.
During these uncertain economic times, it is important for the state to prioritize its spending by helping families with the greatest needs, Lillian Koller, director of the Hawaii Department of Human Services, said in a news release, adding that a family of four with annual incomes of up to $73,000 can qualify for Medicaid.
HMSA said it will pay the costs of Keiki Care Plan through the end of the year. Were disappointed in the states decision, but we feel we have an obligation to the children and their families, Cliff Cisco, HMSAs senior vice president said in a statement. -- by Rebecca Vesely