Covering Kids & Families Coalitions Know Important Lessons for Health Reform – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

In 1997, just months before Congress enacted the
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
(RWJF) announced a national grant program called “Covering Kids.” The concept
was to overcome hurdles to Medicaid enrollment and retention through outreach,
policy and procedural simplifications and coordination of coverage between
programs. With the creation of CHIP, RWJF recognized the significant potential
to enroll eligible children and eventually awarded Covering Kids grants in all


Three years later, RWJF broadened the initiative by
launching “Covering Kids & Families.” Altogether the foundation invested $150 million dollars in technical assistance and direct financial support
of coalitions in the states and hundreds of community-based projects. Today,
many CKF coalitions continue this work; conducting outreach, working with state
program administrators to remove barriers to coverage and providing a real life
perspective on how well public coverage programs are meeting the needs of
children and families.

CCF is pleased to serve as a technical and policy
resource center
to these coalitions as they continue their collaboration
through the National Covering Kids & Families Network (NCKFN). With support from RWJF, CCF will provide federal policy research and analysis and
facilitate information-sharing, networking, communications, collaboration and
peer-to-peer learning among member organizations within the network.

A critical aspect of this new partnership is to identify,
capture and promote key lessons learned, promising strategies and best
practices in enrolling all eligible children and families in Medicaid, CHIP and
other public health coverage programs. This insight will be invaluable as we
design a consumer-friendly system of health coverage that includes expanded
Medicaid coverage, maintenance of CHIP and new affordable options for
individuals and small businesses to purchase subsidized insurance through
insurance exchanges.

While creating an insurance exchange is new to nearly all
states, the experience of Covering Kids & Families coalitions provide
valuable lessons learned. Making information accessible, overcoming language and
cultural barriers, providing community-based application assistance,
streamlining policy and procedures, reducing paperwork and monitoring
enrollment and retention through data collection, analysis and reporting are
essential building blocks to the success of health reform.

For more information about the NCKF network, visit

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