By Annie Xu
Two years ago today, President Obama signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA). The new law, combined with additional support for state Medicaid programs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), enabled many states to improve their eligibility and coverage rules and enrollment procedures. As a result, over the course of the past year, more than 2 million children gained Medicaid or CHIP coverage and the programs served more than 42 million children.
Coinciding with CHIPRA’s second anniversary, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a second round of $40 million in grants to continue the progress being made on outreach and enrollment. This builds on $206 million in enrollment bonuses earned by 15 states last year, and on the first round of outreach and enrollment grants of which 11 were awarded to community health centers and 8 to Primary Care Associations (PCAs).
In the course of a year, last year’s grantees worked diligently to enroll eligible but uninsured children. Many health centers have proved to be very successful and innovative in implementing community-level strategies to design, coordinate, and carry out outreach activities. Prospective grantees for cycle II of the outreach and enrollment grants are encouraged to focus on similar efforts, with particular attention to using technology to assist enrollment and renewal, to emphasize retention, and to reach out to groups who are likely to experience gaps in coverage. Applications for the new grant will be due April 18, 2011 and we encourage all health centers and PCAs to apply!
With the help of CHIPRA, Medicaid and CHIP have since brought the rate of uninsured children to the lowest level in more than two decades. Still, there are an estimated 5 million eligible children yet to be enrolled. Secretary Sebelius issued The Secretary’s Challenge: Connecting Kids to Coverage last year, which NACHC signed on to along with other national, state, and community organizations, as well as two state governors. The 2010 CHIPRA Anniversary Report was recently released to mark year two of CHIPRA’s signing and to highlight both recent accomplishments and upcoming challenges.