By JENNIFER BERRY, Associated PressAssociated PressAssociated Pockets of people lined up at a health care clinic in Houston last month to obtain free health insurance in a state that just expanded Medicaid coverage.
More:More:In this Nov. 7, 2016, file photo, people line up at the new health care clinics in Houston.
The Texas state government is expected to begin issuing new state-level health insurance coverage for all citizens this week.
(AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)In this Sept. 30, 2017, file picture, people wait in line to get insurance in the health care department in Austin, Texas.
The federal government is scheduled to begin accepting new applications for Medicaid coverage in the state this week, the first of a string of steps the federal government has promised to take this year to expand coverage for millions of Texans, the state and local governments said in a joint statement Monday.
More Texas Gov.
Greg Abbott has promised that the federal program, known as CHIP, will be extended statewide.
He’s said the federal waiver, worth up to $1 billion, will help more than 100,000 Texans who need health care.
That means an estimated 50,000 people in Texas who currently don’t have coverage are eligible to get it this week.
“If we can’t have the best health care available to everyone, we should not have Medicaid,” Abbott said at a news conference Monday.
The federal government said in April that it would extend the CHIP waiver to allow states to expand the coverage, and the state of Texas has said it will continue to extend coverage until March 6, 2020.
The waiver has not been extended to cover the new state, which was created as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
A sign directs people to pick up their insurance cards at the Kaiser Permanente Health Center in Houston on Sept. 29, 2018.
(Photo: Patrick Semansky, AP)Health care providers and advocates said the expansion of the CHP waiver was not enough to expand access.
Patients and providers who are eligible under the waiver have said it is difficult to get access to health care and services, such as dental care.
The Texas Department of Insurance said last week it has a limited number of coverage areas and is not expecting to have coverage available in every county until March 2020.
The state of Virginia will begin issuing the CHIPP waiver on Tuesday, which will extend coverage for most of the state until Jan. 31, 2021.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it has also extended CHIP to cover residents of Texas, but it will only cover certain Medicaid beneficiaries.
States that expanded Medicaid under the ACA expanded coverage to people earning up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, or about $20,000 for a family of four.
The cost for individuals is about $2,400.
The CHIP program is one of the largest and most widely used health insurance programs in the country.
The program has more than 5.2 million enrollees nationwide and covers more than 9 million people.
The new federal law was approved by Congress in March, but its rollout has been slowed by the rollout of the U.P.H. website, which had issues with data security and was delayed for months.
The White House on Monday said President Donald Trump had ordered the administration to expedite the process of applying for CHIP coverage.
The new federal CHIP expansion will begin to take effect on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.