CHARLESTON, W.Va. - By July of next year, state employees might be able to enroll their children in a state health care program, according to an announcement Thursday from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Tomblin announced the state is seeking a waiver from the federal government that would allow state employees to enroll their children in the West Virginia Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP.
"The good health of our children is of the utmost importance," Tomblin said in the news release. "Through this opportunity, we are seeking to protect and improve our children's quality of life and future by providing a more affordable insurance option for their families."
Right now, children of state employees are not eligible for CHIP coverage because of federal eligibility restrictions. The CHIP program provides coverage for low-income families or for families who have recently lost their health insurance, according to the program website.
The changes would allow state employees who receive coverage from the Public Employees Insurance Agency - PEIA - to enroll their dependents. Other eligibility criteria will remain the same.
Almost 25,000 children were enrolled in the program as of July, according to data available on the CHIP website.
The attempt to expand CHIP coverage is part of the state's larger process to prepare for health care changes mandated under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act, also called "Obamacare," will change requirements so the state could consider including people who receive some coverage through PEIA, according to the news release.