Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–February 3, 2011. Two years after President Obama signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that more than two million more children were served by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at some point over the past year.
Together, the two programs serve more than 42 million children who would otherwise not have access to regular medical care.
“The increase in the number of children served by these two vital programs is especially significant in the face of the recent economic downturn states are experiencing,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Even in times of hardship, states have demonstrated their commitment to the health of children by continuing efforts to identify and enroll them in coverage.”
To continue to advance coverage for children, Secretary Sebelius today also announced $40 million in new grants to states, community-based organizations, school systems and others to support their outreach and enrollment activities. The grants will help states further modernize and streamline their administrative systems, as well as create and implement school-based outreach strategies and approaches for identifying children who have historically been hard to reach.
Today’s grant announcement builds on $206 million in enrollment bonuses earned by 15 states last year that increased enrollment above specific target levels. The bonus funds help states cover the cost of enrolling additional children in Medicaid.
“As we mark the second anniversary of one of President Obama’s first actions as President, we can be confident that CHIPRA has proven to be a tremendous success,” said Sebelius. “Now we must build on our accomplishments. Today, I am again calling on leaders across the country – from federal, state and local officials to private sector leaders – to join our effort to insure more children. We all have a stake in America’s children and together, we will ensure millions more children get the care they need.”
States were able to increase enrollment in the two programs in part because of boosts in federal support provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). ARRA temporarily increased federal matching funds for state Medicaid programs during the recession.
While Medicaid and CHIP have helped bring the rate of uninsured children to the lowest level in more than two decades, an estimated five million uninsured children are thought to be eligible for one of these programs, yet not covered.
The Secretary’s Challenge: Connecting Kids to Coverage, launched last year, will continue support efforts to reach more children by providing leaders with critical information and support as they work to insure more children in their communities and by closely monitoring progress.
“States’ continued progress toward enrolling all eligible children in coverage is a significant step in cushioning the recession’s impact on access to health insurance,” said Cindy Mann, director, Center for Medicaid, State and Survey and Certification Operations, within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). “As families lose employment or have their hours cut back they may lose the health coverage benefit that came with that job. If not for these two programs, millions more children would go without critical health care services.”
In its second annual report on CHIP and Medicaid enrollment, CMS notes that:
- More than 2.2 million children gained Medicaid or CHIP coverage during federal fiscal year 2010 (October 1, 2009 – September 30, 2010). In total, Medicaid and CHIP served more than 42 million children last year. This steady increase in enrollment is evidence of the important role that Medicaid and CHIP play for children, especially during economic downturns. The uninsured rate for children continues to decline at a time with the rate for adults is climbing. The increase in children’s enrollment demonstrates that Medicaid and CHIP are serving the purpose for which they were created – providing high quality health coverage for lower-income families.
- Thirteen states implemented eligibility expansions in 2010 and many others simplified their enrollment and renewal procedures. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia now cover children with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) in Medicaid and CHIP; with 24 of those states and the District of Columbia covering children with incomes up to 250 percent of the FPL. Twenty-one states now offer coverage to lawfully residing immigrant children and/or pregnant women, enabling states to receive federal funding for this coverage.
- CHIPRA Performance Bonuses have encouraged states to adopt and augment simplification measures in Medicaid and CHIP. Fifteen states qualified for a total of $206 million in performance bonuses for FY 2010; this is a significant increase over 2009 where 10 states received bonuses totaling $75 million. These bonuses provide additional federal financial support each year to states that successfully boost enrollment above target levels among previously eligible but uninsured children in Medicaid. To qualify, a state not only has to enroll more children, but must also have implemented program features that are designed to promote enrollment of eligible children.
- States are increasing their use of technology to facilitate children’s enrollment and retention. Nearly two-thirds of states (32) have an on-line application that can be submitted electronically; 29 states allow electronic signatures on those applications. Six states have received approval to enroll children through the “Express Lane Eligibility” option created by CHIPRA. Express lane eligibility allows states to use data gathered for other programs such as housing assistance or food stamps to determine Medicaid or CHIP eligibility. And 27 states are utilizing the CHIPRA data matching process provided by the Social Security Administration to confirm U.S. citizenship for children.
- Outreach and enrollment grants have advanced coverage and led to public-private partnerships throughout the country to enroll more children. Sixty-nine grantees across 41 States and the District of Columbia are working diligently to facilitate children’s enrollment in health coverage
For more information about children’s health insurance, please visit http://www.insurekidsnow.gov.