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Expansion of Hawk-I Program Expected to Take Place on Schedule

February 2, 2009

Des Moines, IA – Now that the U.S. Senate has approved the re-authorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), it appears that expansion of Iowa's HAWK-I program will take place on schedule.

After twice being vetoed by President Bush, the measure to re-authorize S-CHIP may be the next piece of legislation to reach President Obama's desk. The program provides health insurance for children from families too well-off to qualify for Medicaid, but not well-off enough to easily afford private health insurance. Carrie Fitzgerald with the Child and Family Policy Center says that in Iowa, renewal of the program will allow HAWK-I to enroll 11,000 more children.

"It means that Iowa will be reimbursed for the expansion we're planning for July 1, 2009. It means we'll have more options to cover more kids."

Fitzgerald says the bill will also allow states to cover children and pregnant women who are legal immigrants.

"Right now, those children are barred for the first five years they live in this country, even though their parents work in jobs, pay taxes, are serving in the military; this gives those families the option, if they are income-eligible, to apply for coverage for their children."

Fitzgerald says that provision still needs to be approved by the Iowa state legislature. Legislators opposed to the bill worry that it's part of a long-term effort to replace private health insurance with government programs.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA