More than $296 million was awarded to states for ensuring more children have health coverage, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today.
“And parents now have the security of knowing their children can get the health care they need without worrying that an illness could leave them with a lifetime of medical bills.”
The performance bonus payments are funded under the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, one of the first pieces of legislation signed into law by President Obama in 2009. To qualify for these bonus payments, states must surpass a specified Medicaid enrollment target. They also must adopt procedures that improve access to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), making it easier for eligible children to enroll and retain coverage.
The bonuses come one week after new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the number of children with insurance increased by 1.2 million since the CHIP reauthorization in 2009. An HHS issue brief notes that this increase has been entirely due to greater enrollment in public programs such as Medicaid and CHIP.
"More children now have the advantages health coverage provides," Sebelius said. "And parents now have the security of knowing their children can get the health care they need without worrying that an illness could leave them with a lifetime of medical bills."
Performance bonuses help offset the costs states incur when they enroll lower income children in Medicaid. By ensuring that states streamline their enrollment and renewal procedures, the bonuses also give states the incentive to adopt long-term improvements in their children's health insurance programs.
"Despite serious fiscal challenges, today's awards show that children's health remains a top priority for states," said Cindy Mann, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "Not only have more states qualified for performance bonuses than in the past, but many have continued to improve the efficiency of their programs."
The 23 states eligible for performance bonuses include: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.