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CMS awards millions of dollars to help uninsured Texas children

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 6/20/2016, 9:36 a.m.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services awarded $4,780,000 on Monday to five Texas organizations participating in an effort to ...

Special to The Dallas Examiner

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services awarded $4,780,000 on Monday to five Texas organizations participating in an effort to get more eligible children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The awards, which are being given to 38 states, school districts and local community organizations nationwide, are designed to build on the historic progress already made, increasing the number of children who have health coverage. According to the National Health Interview Survey, only 4.5 percent of children remained uninsured in 2015.

The Connecting Kids to Coverage outreach and enrollment awards will support targeted strategies needed to enroll eligible children who do not have health coverage, including application assistance and targeted outreach. Awardees include states, school districts and local community organizations from across the country in areas where access to health coverage has been lagging, including among others, American Indians, children with learning disabilities, children living in rural communities, and teens.

“Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the rate of uninsurance for children has declined to its lowest levels on record. Fewer than 1 in 20 children are now uninsured,” Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said. “Today’s awards will accelerate efforts in communities across America to continue this progress and reach millions of children who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but not yet enrolled.”

The latest fiscal year 2015 data shows 4,585,378 children are enrolled in either CHIP or Medicaid in Texas. The Affordable Care Act has helped increase the number of children who have access to quality, affordable coverage. In addition, a recent analysis of the American Community Survey found that 91 percent of eligible children are now enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, an increase of nearly 10 percentage points since 2008, according to the Urban Institute. These researchers also found that health coverage increased all subgroups of children studied, including among all age groups and in all regions of the country in 2014.

CMS is also releasing today an informational bulletin that highlights existing strategies available to all states to enroll and retain eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP. This information will help all states build on the progress to date to increase the number of children with health coverage.

“Today’s awards will help continue the remarkable progress states and community organizations have made in enrolling eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP,” said Vikki Wachino, deputy administrator and director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. “CMS is excited to support innovative strategies to enroll children and address disparities in coverage that have kept some children from obtaining the benefits of Medicaid and CHIP.”

Having coverage improves children’s health, ability to succeed in school, and other positive outcomes. Recent research shows that these gains are long lasting, with children who gained coverage experiencing better health, higher educational attainment and higher earnings as adults.

The total of $32 million made possible for the Connecting Kids to Coverage outreach and enrollment funding opportunity is authorized by the bipartisan MACRA legislation. The funding supports activities aimed at identifying children who are eligible for Medicaid and the CHIP Program and helping their families enroll and renew their coverage. Along with the National Connecting Kids to Coverage Campaign, these activities have helped boost enrollment of eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP. They also have helped to engage a wide range of partners in taking steps to make health coverage outreach and enrollment a part of their routine efforts to ensure the health and security of the nation’s children and their families.