By Suzanne Wikle of Kansas Action for Children
At a time when I can pay my bills using an Iphone or
Blackbery, it seems a no-brainer that states should be pursuing more
technological fixes to simplify and streamline processes to ensuring that
families are able to access health
insurance through Healthwave, Kansas’ Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) program Well, I’m here to report that the
Kansas Health Policy Authority is moving forward on some really commonsense initiatives to do just
These changes are happening at a time when program
efficiency is more important than ever. The economic downturn has delivered a
double blow of dwindling state employees and an increasing number of applicants
as more and more families encounter the harsh reality of the economic downturn. As a result, Kansas is experiencing a
backlog of applications and renewals that tops 20,000 – resulting in families
and children waiting months for their applications to be processed.
Kansas was faced with making program changes when CMS
took notice of the large backlog, but KHPA isn’t breaking new ground. They are making smart policy decisions
based on the experience of other states.
For example, Louisiana has many years of success with using the
telephone or online technology to remove excess paperwork from the renewal
process. Other states have been using technology to verify Social Security
numbers and citizenship, instead of requiring paper copies. Or, enrolling children whose family is
enrolled in food assistance programs rather than duplicating another agency’s
work These are commonsense solutions that will help to cut red tape for
families who are seeking health coverage through HealthWave for the very first time while at the same time,
prioritize limited state dollars for coverage rather than administrative paper
Anytime there are changes to the application process
concerns can rise about efficiency versus accuracy, but KHPA has wisely chosen
administrative simplifications that have been tested in other states. The experiences in other states have
shown that when implemented correctly, simplifications don’t jeopardize the
program’s integrity. In fact,
Louisiana, which has been a model for other states in this arena, has one of
the lowest error rates in the country.
Times are tough everywhere and Kansas is no exception. Now is the time that we need the state
programs to be as efficient as possible.
The KHPA has taken a step in the right direction for Kansas families
while at the same time improving efficiency. That’s a win for everyone.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed by Guest Bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Children and Families.