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Mapp: V.I. Children Of Low-Income Parents Are Now Eligible For Increased Medical Insurance Benefits From The Federal Government

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE – Children of low-income parents will be able to apply for increased medical insurance benefits from the federal government starting on Oct. 1.

The V.I. Department of Education will play a key role in helping the local government to identify children who will be eligible for federally subsidized healthcare coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers 91.5 percent of healthcare costs for eligible children from birth through 19 years, Government House said.

Gov. Kenneth Mapp said at a press conference on Wednesday that the United States Department of Health and Human Services has accepted the Virgin Islands government’s petition to transfer coverage of eligible children from the Medical Assistance Program (MAP) to CHIP.

Insurance coverage for children now on the family plans of income eligible government employees also will be transferred to CHIP under the new arrangement.

The school system will begin determining which students are members of qualifying families, as part of the overall strategy to reduce the fiscal burden of healthcare on local resources by making maximum use of federal programs.

Earlier this year, Mapp announced that the Department of Health and Human Services had approved his administration’s request to increase the federal poverty level for the territory from $6,500 to $11,800, which made 19,000 more members of Virgin Islands households eligible for federally subsidized healthcare programs.

The governor said that Education and Human Services will attempt to increase registration in advance of the coming school year.

“Folks in the community that will be applying for SNAP or any other public assistance in Human Services will only have a one-stop qualification process,” Mapp said.

Government House said that it is a significant expansion of health coverage, and for cost savings by the local government with trained staff being added to the hospitals and all federal assistance program intake points used to identify and enroll eligible residents at the earliest possible opportunity.

“By increasing our use of federal dollars to ease the burden of healthcare costs on our people, our hospitals, and our government, we are pursuing our long term strategy to improve our quality of life, and eventually to eliminate our persistent fiscal imbalance,” he said.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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