Health care for our children

In September 2008, the Beshear administration launched a drive to enroll more children in the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program, commonly referred to a KCHIP.

By the end of June 2010 nearly 7,000 children had been added to a program that now covers almost 60,000 in the state.

Applause is warranted, but it must be followed by an acknowledgement that there are still tens of thousands of Kentucky children who are eligible for KCHIP because their family income does not exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level but who are not in the program.

One of the reasons some of those children may not be in the program is that, since 2003, families whose incomes fell between 150 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level have had to pay a $20 monthly premium for their coverage

That requirement ended June 30, although the Beshear administration delayed the formal announcement until this week.

The change means the parents of over 16,000 children who have been paying premiums for KCHIP coverage will save $240 a year per child.

It also should encourage parents who felt they could not afford the premiums in the past to obtain KCHIP coverage for their children.

We hope the Beshear administration intensifies its KCHIP outreach efforts to find these families and bring them into a program — largely paid for with federal money — that offers medical, dental, vision and hearing coverage for the thousands of Kentucky children who desperately need it.

Increasing the number of children covered by KCHIP during a time of severe budget restraints has been a significant achievement by the Beshear administration.

But the work is not done, not with those tens of thousands of eligible children still lacking KCHIP coverage.