Texas may have to give up $285 million in federal money set aside for children, because the state did not spend it. The money is for the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as 'CHIP'. The program helps children whose parents can't afford health insurance, but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.
Now congress will decide whether or not the $285 million will stay in Texas or be reallocated to other states. But local health officials say all is not lost, in fact the money is waiting to be found and Lubbock families need to apply.
"(I'm) Very worried, yes. I've been lucky all these years I didn't have my children on health insurance. I was very lucky nothing serious ever happened to them," says parent, Susie Cobos. But in time, Susie knew her luck would run out. She would need to get health insurance for her two kids. So she turned to a program called 'CHIP.'
"The 'CHIP' program can benefit family's by offering insurance coverage to children whose parents cannot afford to pay the large insurance premium they're offered thru their jobs," says Outreach Coordinator, Deborah Suarez. Suarez says Susie pays only $15 a year for both her children. But through the insurance offered by her employer, she would have had to pay $100 a month.
Suarez says a common misconception about the 'CHIP' program is that you won't qualify, because you have a good job or make good money. But here are the requirements. "You have to have children under 19, your family has to fall under 200% of the federal poverty level, you have to be a U.S. citizen or resident, and be uninsured for at least 90 days," says Suarez.
More than 7,000 Lubbock kids are insured by the 'CHIP' program. But Suarez says that's still not enough. She wants more parents, like Susie, to take advantage of the program. "Now I don't have to worry about my child getting sick and missing out on so much school, I'm able to afford it and take them to the physicians office, I'm able to afford their medication," Susie says.
The West Texas Chip coalition will be hosting a sign up event on November 16th. It's at United on Parkway Drive, from 10 to 3 p.m. If you'd like to find out more about the chip program call (806) 743-4686.