Connecting Kids to Coverage

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted December 27, 2010

As families and children across America are celebrating the holiday season, we at HHS also are celebrating the steps we’ve taken in partnership with the states to ensure that children have the health coverage they need.  This week we are awarding $206 million to 15 states that have met the criteria for performance bonuses made available under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), signed into law by President Obama in 2009.  Together these states (Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin) have enrolled nearly 900,000 children in their Medicaid programs, meeting challenging enrollment goals that aim to reach the children most in need of assistance. They also have streamlined access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for all eligible children by making the enrollment and renewal process less cumbersome, reducing barriers to coverage and care. 

So, just as children are opening holiday packages tied up with red ribbons, these states have been cutting the red tape that can keep eligible children from getting the health care they need.  For example, these states allow families to mail in their applications or apply by phone or on-line – no in-person interview is needed, a feature that is especially important to working families.  Several are using a process called “presumptive eligibility” which allows health care clinics, schools and others to temporarily enroll children who appear eligible so they can quickly get the medicine or doctor visits they need while their full eligibility is being determined.  These states also have made it easier for families to renew their children’s coverage, and most now guarantee eligible children a full year of coverage, so families don’t have to worry about unnecessary and potentially harmful disruptions in care.  These measures have clear advantages for children, but they also help states smoothly operate their programs and save on administrative costs.

I want to congratulate and thank these 15 high-performing states and also the many others that are moving forward and may be in line for a performance bonus in the future. This is exactly the kind of progress I envisioned when I issued the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge – to find and enroll all five million uninsured eligible children and get them enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP in the next five years.  Assuring that all children who are eligible are actually enrolled is the single most important step we can be taking to further reduce the number of children in America who do not have health insurance. In addition to the state efforts we highlight today, community-based organizations, health centers, school districts, faith-based groups, Indian tribes and others all have a role to play.  Long after the holiday season is over, we must continue to work together to make sure that all our children have the most important gift of all … the gift of good health.

For more information, call 1-877-KIDSNOW or you can visit www.insurekidsnow.gov or http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/professionals/CHIPRA/chipra_awards.html.