The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced $40 million in grants for efforts to identify and enroll children eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Grants were awarded to 39 state agencies, community health centers, school-based organizations and non-profit groups in 23 states. The two-year grants are authorized under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009.
“Today’s grants will help us identify and enroll children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, ensuring that more children have the health care they need,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Keeping Americans healthy from a young age is the right thing to do, and it saves money by avoiding preventable diseases and conditions as they get older. The activities we are funding will help eligible children get covered, stay healthy and prepare them to succeed in school.” The grants will build on the Secretary’s Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge to find and enroll all eligible children and support outreach strategies that have been shown to be successful.
Grants were made in five focus areas:
1. Using technology to facilitate enrollment and renewal (approximately $20 million to ten grantees)
2. Retaining eligible children in coverage (approximately $3 million to four grantees)
3. Engaging schools in outreach, enrollment and renewal activities (approximately $5 million to seven grantees)
4. Reaching children who are most likely to experience gaps in coverage (approximately $10 million to fourteen grantees)
5. Ensuring eligible teens are enrolled and stay covered (approximately $3 million to four grantees).
6. Grant amounts range from $200,000 to $2.5 million with the largest grants going to the technology focus area. For a list of grantees, please visit:http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/professionals/reports/chipra/CHIPRA-Cycle-II-Grant-Summaries.pdf
“We are making great progress enrolling eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP and the grants released today help keep these important efforts moving forward. They are a part of our commitment to help all eligible children get the health coverage they need,” said Cindy Mann, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey & Certification.
A new study just released by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that, despite an increase in eligible children between 2008 and 2009, the total number of eligible but uninsured children declined from 4.7 million in 2008 to 4.3 million in 2009, in part due to outreach and enrollment efforts.
Efforts to streamline Medicaid and CHIP enrollment and renewal practices, combined with robust outreach activities, have helped reduce the numbers of uninsured children. For example, Oregon, a previous CHIPRA outreach grantee, has cut its percentage of uninsured children in half, from 11.3 percent in 2009 to 5.6 percent in 2011. In the past two years, Oregon enrolled 94,000 eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP. In addition to its efforts in reducing paperwork for families and establishing a timely and cost-effective online application process, Oregon used its grant funding to provide direct one-on-one enrollment assistance to families and conduct vigorous outreach activities throughout the school system.
“We want to help others achieve what Oregon has accomplished and more,” said CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, M.D. “Simplifying enrollment and renewal systems and ensuring that signing up for health coverage is standard practice in schools and health centers are central to sustaining the progress we’ve made. The CHIPRA grants are designed to support these efforts that will have lasting effects.”
Today’s CHIPRA outreach grant announcement follows the August 12, 2011 release of a joint letter from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to the nation’s governors urging them to encourage schools to “undertake children’s health coverage outreach and enrollment activities when classes begin this fall.” The letter suggests promising strategies such as enlisting school athletic coaches to help promote enrollment. HHS is supporting such efforts by providing a strategy guide to states, schools, community groups, and other stakeholders as part of the “Get Covered, Get in the Game” initiative the agency conducted in 2010 with CHIPRA funding.
CHIPRA, together with the Affordable Care Act, allocates a total of $140 million for enrollment and renewal outreach, including $112 million in grants to states, community groups and health care providers, $14 million specifically for organizations serving American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN), and $14 million reserved for national enrollment campaign activities. The first $40 million in grants, as well as $10 million in AI/AN grants, were awarded in 2009 and 2010, respectively.