CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE: RWJF To Give $17.5 Million
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will announce today $17.5 million in grants to public-private partnerships in 20 states to boost enrollment and participation in children's health insurance plans nationwide. The $47 million grant program -- "Covering Kids: A National Health Access Initiative for Low-Income, Uninsured Children" -- will help fund outreach efforts to channel eligible children into either state Medicaid programs or state Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) (RWJF release, 1/14). The AP/Las Vegas Sun reports that some experts are worried that as people exit the welfare rolls under recent reforms, they may not realize that their children remain eligible for Medicaid. The grants aim to help alleviate this problem (1/13). Under Covering Kids, grant recipients will design outreach programs to identify eligible children, work to streamline the application process, coordinate existing coverage programs and establish statewide and community- based education programs. "Experience has shown that simply creating coverage programs for children is not enough," said Judith Whang, program officer at RWJF. "Eligible children need to actually be enrolled in programs in order to benefit from them," she said (RWJF release, 1/14).
The AP/Sun notes that the grants are intended to help state CHIP programs avoid some of the pitfalls of Medicaid, most notably its stigma. Sarah Shruptine, the national office director of the program, said that making enrollment easy was key. "If you apply for one of these nice-named programs and you're treated poorly and it's tough to apply, you'll build a stigma," she said (1/13). For more information about the Covering Kids program and the 20 partnerships receiving the first wave of the RWJF awards, contact the national program office at (803)779-2607 (RWJF release, 1/14).
Kentucky Cashes In
The University of Kentucky's Center for Health Services Management and Research has already developed a wishlist for the $813,000 award it will receive from the RWJF today. The agency plans to use the money over the next three years to identify and enroll an estimated 55,000 children eligible for the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program (KCHIP). State officials also hope to enroll nearly 50,000 uninsured children who are eligible for Medicaid coverage. A new, streamlined application for KCHIP and Medicaid is expected to make enrollment more user- friendly, but Medicaid officer Bill Wagner still predicts it will be a tough sell. He said that many "financially strained parents will have to be convinced that buying coverage for their children is a wise decision." Two pilot outreach projects in Louisville and Harlan County will see a fraction of the grant money and both plan to use it toward outreach efforts. The center's Julia Costich said, "[O]ur plan is to push as much of the grant money as possible into places where potentially eligible children are going to be found" (Warren, Lexington Herald- Leader, 1/14).