More Louisiana children will be eligible for the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP) because of the annual increase in the Federal Poverty Level effective this month. This increase allows working families to earn more income and still qualify for LaCHIP, which provides no-cost health coverage for uninsured children younger than age 19.

Since the program’s start in 1998, more than 26,000 families have been denied coverage because their incomes were too high. In the past year alone, more than 2,000 families have been denied coverage because of their incomes. The annual changes to the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines may allow many of these families to qualify now for LaCHIP benefits for their children.

The increase comes on the heels of a Department of Health and Hospital’s survey that showed that the LaCHIP program had helped decrease the percentage of uninsured children to 7.6 percent as of July 2005, before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. When LaCHIP began in 1998, Louisiana’s rate of uninsured children was almost 25 percent.

“From the beginning of her health care reform effort, Gov. Blanco has challenged us to find and enroll every eligible child, and this goal has become even more critical as our state recovers from last year's hurricanes,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. “Many parents lost their jobs and subsequently their health care coverage during Katrina and Rita, and we want them to know their children may be eligible for help through LaCHIP or traditional Medicaid. As people work to rebuild their lives, it is important for them to know that there are health coverage options available through the state.”

For more complete income guidelines or to obtain an application or renewal form, those interested in LaCHIP should visit or call 1-877-2LaCHIP (252-2447).

Income guidelines also will change for LaMOMS (for pregnant women), the Medicare Savings Program (for people with Medicare) and the Medicaid Purchase Plan (for workers with disabilities). Those interested in these Medicaid programs should visit or call 1-888-342-6207.