Mississippi getting help from feds to fund children's insurance plan

Mississippi should received about $23

million to cover a funding shortage in the Children's Health

Insurance Program, says Gov. Haley Barbour.

Mississippi was one of 14 states facing the possibility of

running out of money by September when the federal fiscal year

ends. Mississippi shortfall was expected to be about $15 million.

Congress has approved $650 million to cover shortages in

Mississippi, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North

Carolina, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska,

Rhode Island and Alaska.

Barbour, in a statement released Friday, said that he was

notified of the funding by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary

Michael Leavitt.

The program offers children in low-income families access to

medical and dental care, prescription drug coverage and

immunizations. The Division of Medicaid operates the insurance


"Without the additional funds, Mississippi faced a serious

shortfall for this program," Barbour said.

Since 2002, some states have experienced shortages in funding

for the decade-old insurance program based on outdated allocations

set in law, said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a national

nonprofit advocacy organization that focuses on children's issues.

"National spending started exceeding the money the federal

government was providing," he said in a www.clarionledger.com

article "As a result, those projections didn't pan out."

Later this year, Congress is expected to consider reauthorizing

the program. Several governors, including Barbour, have asked for

revised allocations so programs stop running shortages.