The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), awarded $49 million to organizations on the frontlines of reducing uninsured rates and connecting more children, parents, and families to healthcare coverage.
In support of President Biden’s Executive Orders on Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s priority of expanding access to affordable, quality healthcare, these awards represent the largest investment CMS has ever made in outreach and enrollment through the Connecting Kids to Coverage program.
“At HHS, it is a top priority to make high-quality healthcare accessible and affordable for every American,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This past year, through unprecedented investments in outreach and enrollment efforts, a record-breaking 14.5 million people signed up for healthcare coverage through the ACA Marketplace. With this historic investment in Medicaid and CHIP, we will redouble our efforts to get children and parents covered — and give them the peace of mind that comes with it.”
Grantees will provide enrollment and renewal assistance to children and their families, and — for the first time ever — to expectant parents to promote improved maternal and infant health outcomes. CMS issued 36 cooperative agreements in 20 states through Medicaid’s Connecting Kids to Coverage program. Grantees — including state and local governments, tribal organizations, federal health safety net organizations, non-profits, and schools — will each receive up to $1.5 million over three years to advance Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment and retention.
“Ensuring kids and families have health coverage is a key priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. CMS is committed to using all available tools to expand coverage,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Families often seek help and information from community organizations they know and trust, and we recognize the pivotal role they play in advancing Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollment and retention.” Grantees will participate in the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign efforts, including the national back-to-school initiative, the year-round enrollment initiative, and new initiatives focused on retaining individuals in Medicaid and CHIP. This work will be key, not only as states prepare to resume normal Medicaid and CHIP operations once the COVID-19 public health emergency ends, but also as CMS continues to build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s success connecting record-breaking numbers of people to healthcare coverage.”
Additionally, grantees will work on several unique activities of their own. They may:
· Engage schools and other programs serving young people.
· Bridge demographic health disparities by targeting communities with low coverage.
· Establish and develop application assistance resources to provide high-quality, reliable Medicaid/CHIP enrollment and renewal services in local communities.
· Use social media to conduct virtual outreach and enrollment assistance.
· Use parent mentors and community health workers to assist families with enrolling in Medicaid and CHIP, retaining coverage, and addressing social determinants of health.
This unprecedented funding bridges many of the gaps that prevent eligible children from connecting to coverage. Of America’s 4 million uninsured children, studies show that 2.3 million are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. However, many of their families either do not know they are eligible or struggle with enrollment. There are also pronounced disparities. American Indian and Alaska Native children have the highest uninsured rates (11.8%), followed by those who are Hispanic (11.4%) and non-Hispanic Black (5.9%). Targeting new and expectant parents can also lead to increased child enrollment, since infants born to people on Medicaid and CHIP are automatically deemed eligible for one year.
The new Connecting Kids to Coverage grantees were funded through the Helping Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers, and Hopeful Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable Act of 2017 (HEALTHY KIDS Act). The HEALTHY KIDS Act provides continued funding for outreach and enrollment to reduce the number of children eligible for, but not enrolled in, Medicaid and CHIP. Since 2009, the HEALTHY KIDS Act has helped CMS award $265 million to more than 330 community-based organizations, states, and local governments.