Important Early Funding Opportunities for States Emerging from Health Reform – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

We’ve said it before, but
it bears repeating–we don’t have to wait until 2014 to expand access to health
coverage or to get started on reform efforts.  Medicaid and CHIP coverage is already available to most of
the nation’s uninsured kids (and it’s time to get them enrolled). Important
benefits of the health reform law are also here already:  The Patient Protection and Affordable
Care Act contains a range of opportunities for states (and in some cases, other
entities) to claim federal funds this year for new program options,
demonstration grants, and extensions of existing programs.  Other grants are available next year
and in the future.  

The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled the
details on many of these opportunities.  A few are particularly
intriguing for those interested in coverage for low- and moderate-income
children and families:

  •  Consumer Assistance/Ombudsman Programs.  Keeping people informed of the new
    protections that will be available for private coverage and the new coverage
    options available in Medicaid, CHIP, and the Exchanges will take some
    effort.  The law provides for
    federal support for state offices of health insurance consumer assistance or
    health insurance ombudsman programs. 
    While these programs will certainly include information on private
    health insurance, it’s important for advocates for Medicaid and CHIP to speak
    up to make sure that families can get assistance in one place on all the
    options available to them–including public programs.  Find out more on consumer assistance from Community
  • Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation
    Grant Program.  Home visits from
    nurses, social workers, or other child development specialists can help kids
    and parents stay healthy and on track for proper development.  Health reform devotes funding to states
    for planning and carrying out home visitation programs.  The funding is available this year and
    each state must conduct a needs assessment by September, so the time is now to
    find those in your state working on this topic, likely in the Maternal and
    Child Health office.  HRSA has
    opened applications for the initial round of funding under this grant program.  
  •  Exchange Planning Grants.  Other than Massachusetts and Utah, states have very little
    experience setting up and running health insurance exchanges.  To help states plan for the Exchanges,
    states will be eligible for grants by March of 2011 under a formula to be
    determined by the Secretary of HHS. 
    State plans under these grants will be the first steps toward key
    decisions like who will run the eligibility systems for the exchanges and how
    they’ll be structured.  We’ll be
    sure to share further details once they’re available and we’d love to hear
    updates from you on any state activity in advance of these grants.
  • Other grants will support the development of health
    homes for Medicaid enrollees with chronic conditions, pregnancy assistance
    services delivered by high schools and colleges, and school-based health

The NCSL link above will help you keep track of the
amounts, year of implementation, eligibility, and other details of these grant
opportunities.  But for a
quick reference guide for the grants as well as a range of other state
responsibilities and options under health reform, check out this Policy Brief
from the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation
, a partnership
between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.  It only provides a brief bullet point
on each provision, so be sure to check elsewhere for complete details;
nonetheless, it’s a handy guide that breaks down state requirements and options
by year of implementation.  

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