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My colleague Ani and I had the pleasure of attending the Second National Children’s Health Insurance Summit earlier this month in Chicago. The gathering, hosted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), was the official kick-off for the second round of outreach and enrollment grants that CMS awarded to 39 different groups in 25 states to get kids enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CMS awarded $40 million across five focus areas: technology, retention, engaging schools, targeting groups likely to experience gaps in coverage, and concentrating on teens. Over the course of the three-day meeting, we got the opportunity to hear from a wide range of groups that are involved in children’s outreach and enrollment, including community health centers, managed care plans, providers, communications and technology firms, state agencies, and consumer groups. Conference attendees, many of whom have a wealth of enrollment-related experience, shared lessons learned from the last round of grants (2009-2011) as well as their plans for the next few years. And wow, are these groups busy!

Grantees and non-grantees alike are actively engaged in reaching out to the remaining uninsured children, many of whom are likely eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. This is important to our mission at Enroll America for two reasons:


  1. Efforts to reach out to low-income families and enroll children in Medicaid and CHIP are directly instructive to the outreach efforts that will be needed in 2013 and beyond. Many of the parents of Medicaid/CHIP-eligible children will be newly eligible for coverage through Medicaid or health insurance exchanges in 2014. Identifying the best ways to reach these families to enroll their children gives us clues about how to enroll their parents when they are eligible for coverage in 2014.
  2. The more eligible children who get—and keep—coverage now, the fewer people there will be who need to enroll by 2014.

We’ll blog about some of the innovative projects these grantees are working on in the coming months. For example, the Michigan Primary Care Association is using a technology-driven model to improve renewal rates by texting families to remind them to renew and by providing renewal assistance over the phone and online. The South Carolina State Office of Rural Health is partnering with The Benefit Bank of South Carolina to connect the existing Benefit Bank technology to the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ eligibility determination system. They are also going to use tablets with cameras to capture applications and supporting paperwork and to submit applications electronically. This helps reduce the paperwork that families need to submit and expedites the application process.

We’re looking forward to highlighting other grantees’ work in future posts. If your organization is a grantee and has a great idea to share with our readers, let us know!

Cross posted from the Enroll America blog

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