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 In This Issue:
  • Happy 20th Birthday, CHIP!
  • New Efforts to Make Renewal Easier for Families
  • NEW Low-Income Families with Children (LIFC) Income Limits
  • Electronic Notifications to Help Busy Families Manage their Cases
  • Oral Health is Good Health
  • Summer Oral Health Tips for Families
  • VDSS Enterprise Customer Service Center
  • Back-to-School Outreach: It's Never Too Early!
  • New Way for Coaches to Help Kids Get in the Game
  • NEW! Virginia's Required Sports Physical Form Features Information about the FAMIS Programs
  • More than a Number: Sumner's FAMIS Coverage Story
  • Looking for Someone to Share Information about the FAMIS Programs in Your Area?
  • NEW! Higher GAP Income Eligibility Limits Coming October 1
  • New Profile of Virginia's Uninsured Now Available
  • FAMIS Program Enrollment as of June 1, 2017 

Happy 20th Birthday, CHIP!
Known in Virginia as FAMIS, the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) became law during the summer of 1997. FAMIS provides health insurance to children of working parents who may be unable to afford the premiums associated with job-based insurance, and complements FAMIS Plus ( also known as "Children's Medicaid") in keeping kids covered.

Families of four making between $36,409 and $50,430 in 2017 can qualify for FAMIS, alleviating financial concerns for these hard-working parents who otherwise may not be able to afford to cover their children. Nationwide, CHIP has reduced the uninsured rate among U.S. children by more than half since 1997!

New Efforts to Make Renewal Easier for Families
The Virginia Department of Social Services ( VDSS) is always looking for ways to make the annual renewal easier and simpler.

Starting in April, VDSS has increased efforts to encourage local departments to renew enrollees in the FAMIS programs ex parte. Ex parte is a way workers can review a family's case "administratively" or without requiring any action by the family.  MAGI enrollees ( FAMIS/FAMIS Plus, LIFC and Plan First) are most likely to be renewed using ex parte.

The automated ex parte renewal process began in April for families whose renewal was due in June. To date, almost 31,000 families have had renewals completed ex parte. While not every family's renewal will be able to be completed this way, the automated ex parte process will be a time-saver for many families and local departments of social services alike.

Stay tuned for information on more exciting changes to the annual renewal process!

NEW Low-Income Families with Children (LIFC) Income Limits
Effective July 1, the income guidelines for the Low-Income Families with Children program ( better known as "LIFC" ) will increase. This change is tied to the rise in the Consumer Price Index in 2017. Check out the new guidelines here: New LIFC Income Card .

Electronic Notifications to Help Busy Families Manage their Cases
Beginning July 1, when a family's social services case information is updated, the family will be able to sign up for email or text alerts regarding its case, instead of getting correspondence via U.S. Mail.
If a family chooses to get email or text alerts, it will receive a text or email directing it to a secure webpage within CommonHelp to download the correspondence.
If a family does not choose a preferred method of communication, it will continue to receive all notices and requests for verifications through U.S. Mail.

Oral Health is Good Health
Children and pregnant women enrolled in the FAMIS programs have access to dental care. These two articles are good reminders of why dental care is so important, both to children and adults:
  The Painful Truth about Teeth ( The Washington Post)
Our Teeth are Making Us Sick ( The New York Times)

Summer Oral Health Tips for Families
Every parent knows that summer can throw a healthy routine off track. By following these oral health tips from Smiles For Children, kids can keep a healthy mouth all year:
  1. Keep up the good work! Brushing twice a day is important, even in the midst of vacations, summer camps, and days at the pool. Getting the kids a fun, travel-sized toothbrush can ensure that they look forward to brushing regularly...even at camp.
  2. Now's the time for a checkup! To prevent dental problems over the summer, book an appointment with a dentist as soon as school is out. You don't want a child's toothache to dampen a summer vacation. And, making an appointment during the summer helps kids avoid missing school to get to the dentist. To find a Smiles For Children dentist near you, call 1-888-912-3456, or visit the DentaQuest website.

VDSS Enterprise Customer Service Center
In April, the VDSS Enterprise Customer Service Center ( ECSC) began serving clients. ECSC representatives can:
  • Help families apply for both medical assistance benefits and SNAP or TANF via phone.
  • Answer client questions about the status of a case.
  • Refer clients to the appeals process when applicable
  • Refer clients with questions about medical assistance eligibility (or those who want to apply for state-sponsored health insurance only) to the Cover Virginia Call Center.
To reach the VDSS Enterprise Customer Service Center, call: 1-855-635-4370.
Back-to-School Outreach: It's Never too Early!
DMAS has begun planning its annual Back-to-School campaign!
  • A webpage dedicated to Back to School outreach will appear on beginning in July.
  • Every public school in Virginia will receive FAMIS flyers to place in the first-day packets it gives to all students.
  • Families with children enrolled in the Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program will receive materials about the FAMIS programs.
If you would like outreach materials about the FAMIS programs to distribute, go to the Cover Virginia Partners page here. Some materials can be downloaded directly from the website. Others can be ordered for free from DMAS.
New Way for Coaches to Help Kids Get in the Game
Know a coach or an athletic administrator? 
In partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Connecting Kids to Coverage initiative, the Virginia Health Care Foundation and the Virginia Department of Education teamed up to produce an on-demand webinar to help coaches and athletics directors understand how to help families enroll in the FAMIS Programs!
Since student athletes are required to carry health insurance to participate in Virginia's public schools' athletic programs, coaches can be excellent partners in making sure no students are sidelined for being uninsured.
Check out the continuing education module here  , and share it with a coach near you. 
Bonus: Coaches earn continuing education credit for completing the webinar. Go team!
NEW! Virginia's Required Sports Physical Form Features Information about the FAMIS Programs
Beginning July 1, families of teens seeking to participate in sports through Virginia's public schools may notice new information on the 2017-2018 required sports physical form. The Acknowledgement of Risk and Insurance Statement section of the form now includes the following statement: "To access quality, low-cost comprehensive health insurance through FAMIS for your child, please contact Cover Virginia by going to or calling 855-242-8282."
More than a Number: Sumner's FAMIS Coverage Story
Sumner, a seventh-grader from Henry County, has always loved volleyball. She played year-round with the Henry County Parks and Recreation's league for three years, giving her all at every practice. When school got out in May, Sumner was excited to devote her summer to volleyball, hoping to be in tip-top shape to try out for the local high school's team when she returned to school in the fall.
Then, one day at practice, Sumner jumped up to spike the ball, and twisted her knee when she landed. Her dad saw the whole thing, and worried Sumner might not be back in playing shape before the big tryout.
Thankfully, Sumner's mom had signed her up for FAMIS. Without FAMIS, the cost to get Sumner back on the court would have been over $2,400, a sizable burden for her family. Sumner's mom works at a daycare, and her dad does maintenance at McDonald's. "Having FAMIS was really, really good for her," Sumner's mom stated. "Those $5 copays made her physical therapy visits affordable."
Thanks to FAMIS, Sumner will finish her physical therapy next month, and be back in the game before the fall. Good luck at tryouts, Sumner!

Looking for Someone to Share Information about the FAMIS Programs in Your Area?
The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services ( DMAS) Outreach and Consumer Communications Unit employs three FAMIS Community Outreach Coordinators. They provide education and promote the FAMIS programs through outreach to employers and community organizations and by attending community events:

NEW! Higher GAP Income Eligibility Limits Coming October 1
Effective October 1, 2017, the income guidelines for the Governor's Access Plan ( GAP) program for Virginians with a serious mental illness will increase from 80% FPL to 100% FPL. Reminder: all GAP applications are processed by Cover Virginia.
New Profile of Virginia's Uninsured Now Available
Each year, the Virginia Health Care Foundation releases a Profile of Virginia's Uninsured. Produced by The Urban Institute, the Profile provides a deep analysis of the most recent U.S. Census data about Virginia's uninsured, including regional rates of uninsurance, demographics, work status and much more. This year's report shows there are still 61,000 uninsured Virginia children under 200% FPL. 
These data may be useful as organizations work hard to reach those uninsured children who are income-eligible for coverage, yet remain unenrolled. To access the report visit
Please Note: The analysis uses 2015 American Community Survey ( ACS) data, adjusted to correct for underreporting of income-eligibility in households. It shows a higher number of uninsured in Virginia than may be reported by other sources.
FAMIS Program Enrollment as of June 1, 2017:
  • 117,029 children were enrolled in CHIP (including 62,315 in FAMIS, 105 in FAMIS Select, and 54,714 in the CHIP Medicaid Expansion)
  • 484,955 children were enrolled in FAMIS Plus (including 13,397 in Adoption Assistance and Foster Care)
  • 1,132 pregnant women were enrolled in FAMIS MOMS
  • 16,115 pregnant women were enrolled in Medicaid for Pregnant Women
  • 112,612 men and women were enrolled in Plan First
  • 845 former foster care youth are enrolled in Medicaid


HBCHIPHere's a look at what FAMIS brings to Virginia:
  • Premium-free enrollment and limited cost-sharing for families. Families with kids enrolled in FAMIS do not pay monthly premiums, and pay very small copays when they receive medical services. Their parents cannot be required to pay more than either $180 or $350 per year in copays, depending on the family's income.
  • Medical services on par with private insurance. FAMIS covers labs and x-rays, doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital care, and dental and vision care at a greatly reduced cost to working families, enabling children to lead healthy lives.
  • An economic lifeline for over 117,000 families, and in turn, for Virginia's future. Currently, 117,029 children in Virginia are enrolled in FAMIS. Another 484,955 are enrolled in FAMIS Plus, or Children's Medicaid. These children are more likely to have a consistent medical home, and to succeed in school because they get the health care services they need.

SummerOralHealthSummer Oral Health Tips, continued...
3. Keep the kitchen healthy. Make sure to keep healthy snacks around the house, as kids are extra likely to snack throughout the day when they're home for the summer. Having healthy snacks and water readily available will help to ensure a healthy mouth this summer.
4. Know what to do in a dental emergency. Summer is full of fun activities. Despite a parent's best efforts, these fun activities sometimes result in injuries.
If a child gets a tooth injury, it's important to get to the dentist right away. Here are some other things you can do to help, if an injury occurs:
  • Use warm water to clean the injured area and cold packs to reduce any swelling
  • Use sterile gauze to stop any bleeding
  • Place a lost permanent tooth back in the mouth, if possible. If not, use salt water or milk to keep the tooth moist for the ride to the dentist.
Interested in partnering with DentaQuest to raise awareness about oral health for kids and pregnant women? Contact the  Smiles For Children Outreach Coordinator, Jackie Wake, at
More about  Smiles For Children and how to connect families to better oral health can be found on the Cover Virginia website at
Those covered by  Smiles For Children ( Medicaid or FAMIS enrollees, including pregnant women) can call 888-912-3456 to learn more about benefits or to find a dentist. Transportation and translation services may be available. For more information, visit