Delaware expands children's health benefits

    The State of Delaware is expanding health care benefits for kids. Governor Jack Markell signed a pair of bills into law Thursday aimed improving at children’s health.

    The State of Delaware is expanding health care benefits for kids.

    Governor Jack Markell signed a pair of bills into law Thursday aimed improving at children’s health.

    One expands the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP to help families that don’t currently qualify for CHIP, while the other requires insurance companies to cover developmental screenings for infants and toddlers.

    “This is an indication of the State’s investment in our kids.” said Markell.

    The CHIP expansion allows families that don’t qualify for CHIP to buy in to the program for approximately 170 dollars a month per child.

    The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Teresa Schooley (D-Newark) believes it will help people falling through the cracks. “They earn too much or are not in poverty, but they are not insured. So, this is kind of that area, the no man’s land.” said Schooley, who is also director of KIDS Count in Delaware, which tracks the well-being of children in the state.

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    State officials hope the law will help an estimated 9 thousand uninsured kids who are not eligible for CHIP.

    The developmental screening bill requires insurance companies to cover screenings for kids at 9, 18 and 30 months.

    Dr. Jay Ludwicki, president of the Delaware chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, believes it could have a huge impact. “We’re missing about 50 to 70 percent of kids by not doing these screenings. Then, they hit school, and school has to deal with them. So, its big for school readiness,” said Ludwicki. “Once they hit school, their brains aren’t as pliable to early intervention services.”

    State officials estimate the developmental screenings will only cost policyholders an additional 3 cents per month. “It is so obvious this is the right thing to do.” said Markell. “Is three cents a month, per policy, worth that kind of investment? This is a no brainer.”

    The bills are not expected to cost the State anything.

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