HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the award of more than $72 million to nine states for making significant progress in enrolling children in health coverage through Medicaid and improving access to children's coverage through Medicaid and the state children's health insurance program.
Funding for the "performance bonuses" was included in the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization (CHIPRA) law. CHIPRA also set performance goals that states must meet to qualify for a bonus.
"Today, we're happy to reward states that have taken important steps to help insure more children and made a real difference in the lives of families across the country," said Secretary Sebelius. "These awards will provide crucial support and help states continue to serve children and families."
States receiving funds today include: Alaska, Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. (See below for a complete list of state awards.) Awards vary by state according to a formula set out in CHIPRA but total $72.6 million this fiscal year.
To receive these performance bonuses, states had to meet two types of performance goals set forth in the CHIPRA statute. States had to qualify by adopting at least five of eight listed program features-like providing 12 months of continuous eligibility, using a joint application for both Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and streamlining eligibility renewal processes-that are known to encourage enrollment and retention of eligible children. States also had to document significant increases in Medicaid enrollment among children over the course of the year.
Performance bonuses are not the only federal incentive for states to maintain and expand their Medicaid programs. A short-term boost in Medicaid reimbursement rates authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) also provided relief to states with suffering economies, enabling them to extend care to eligible children.
"In the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, decisive action in ARRA and CHIPRA, along with focused state activity, helped ensure that children got the health care they need," said Cindy Mann, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations within the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). "We are pleased to see the success these states have achieved as well as the actions to enroll eligible children taken by other states that we expect may qualify for the bonus next year."
Today's announcement closely follows the release of a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured which also credited ARRA and CHIPRA with enabling States to expand access to care for low-income, uninsured children. In a 50-state survey, the Commission concluded that 26 states expanded and/or simplified their Medicaid and CHIP programs in 2009. A copy of the complete report can be found at http://www.kff.org.
State award amounts today are:
Alabama $39.1 million
Illinois $9.1 million
Louisiana $1.5 million
Michigan $3.7 million
New Jersey $4.2 million
New Mexico $5.1 million
Oregon $1.6 million
Washington $7.5 million
Total: $72.6 million
CMS today also released a letter to state health officials providing more detailed guidance on the criteria for qualifying for a bonus payment for 2009 and in future years. That letter will be available on the CMS web site at www.cms.hhs.gov/CHIPRA and also on the Insure Kids Now website at www.insurekidsnow.gov
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