In one of those competitions where you wish all the teams
could win, CMS was limited to choosing the best of the best in a second round
of $40 million in grants for Medicaid and CHIP outreach, enrollment and retention
activities. In announcing the grants, friends at CMS pointed to the olympic
success in Oregon as strong evidence of the impact that strategic and
sustained outreach, matched with removing hurdles to enrollment and retention,
can have in connecting kids to coverage. In less than two years, Oregon has cut
the state’s uninsured rate among children in half (from 11.3% to 5.6%) through
aggressive marketing, outreach and enrollment simplifications.
The grants, funded through CHIP reauthorization, ranged
from $200,000 to $2.5 million and were awarded to 39 grantees in 23 states.
Grantees include states, community health centers and community-based
organizations and will focus on five areas as follows:
- Using technology to facilitate enrollment and renewal
(approximately $20 million to ten grantees)
- Retaining eligible children in coverage (approximately
$3 million to four grantees);
- Engaging schools in outreach, enrollment and renewal
activities (approximately $5 million to seven grantees)
- Reaching children who are most likely to experience
gaps in coverage (approximately $10 million to fourteen grantees)
- Ensuring eligible teens are enrolled and stay covered
(approximately $3 million to four grantees).
Despite the fact that the economy and persistent declines
in employer based coverage keep moving the goalposts on the number of children
in need of coverage, updated data released by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation shows gains, between 2008 and 2009, in the participation rates of
eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP in all but six states.
To keep moving
the ball forward, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne
Duncan sent a joint letter encouraging
Governors to boost enrollment through back-to-school and ongoing school-based
outreach activities in their states.
With back-to-school and weekend football and soccer fast
approaching, CMS also released a new strategy guide on how schools and community youth sports programs can
help get eligible children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. The guide was created
based on the experience of the seven states that participated in last year’s
Get Covered, Get in the Game Initiative
Looking to add to your state’s outreach playbook? The
Insure Kids Now website has expanded to its outreach video library with more real-life, on-the-ground strategies in play in
communities across the country. The website also has posted other outreach
tools more prominently, which include individual fact sheets on 10 things
schools, community health centers and local businesses can do to connect kids to coverage.
When I was calling the plays in NH as the CHIP director,
I learned that it takes good tactics, tools, tenacity, and teamwork between the
state and community partners to finish strong in covering kids. Our lessons
learned, tools developed and strategies deployed not only keep kids healthy on
and off the field but also help us prepare our game plan for the ACA’s coverage
expansion in 2014.