HHS putting $49 million toward increased healthcare coverage for children

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[MM Curator Summary]: The money will be doled out in $1.5M grants to entities working to increase Medicaid enrollment outreach efforts.


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Grantees will provide enrollment and renewal assistance to children and their families, as well as expectant parents.


Photo: FS Productions/Getty Images

The administration made a push to expand healthcare coverage for young people this week when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, awarded $49 million to organizations trying to reduce uninsured rates among children, parents and families.

The agency said it’s looking to invest in outreach and enrollment through Medicaid’s Connecting Kids to Coverage program. Grantees were funded through the Helping Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers, and Hopeful Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable Act of 2017 (HEALTHY KIDS Act). The HEALTHY KIDS Act provides continued funding for outreach and enrollment to reduce the number of children eligible for, but not enrolled in, Medicaid and CHIP.

Grantees will provide enrollment and renewal assistance to children and their families, as well as expectant parents, to promote improved maternal and infant health outcomes. 

CMS issued 36 cooperative agreements in 20 states through the Connecting Kids to Coverage program. Grantees – including state and local governments, tribal organizations, federal health safety net organizations, nonprofits and schools – will each receive up to $1.5 million over three years to advance Medicaid and CHIP enrollment and retention.


Grantees will participate in the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign efforts, including the national back-to-school initiative, the year-round enrollment initiative, and new initiatives focused on retaining individuals in Medicaid and CHIP.

CMS said this work will be key as states prepare to resume normal Medicaid and CHIP
operations once the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.

The grantees will also work on several unique activities of their own. They may: engage schools and other programs serving young people; bridge demographic health disparities by targeting communities with low coverage; use social media to conduct virtual outreach and enrollment assistance; and use parent mentors and community health workers to assist families with enrolling in Medicaid and CHIP, retaining coverage, and addressing social determinants of health.


According to CMS, of America’s 4 million uninsured children, 2.3 million are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP – though  many families don’t know they’re eligible or struggle with enrollment.

There are also pronounced disparities. American Indian and Alaska Native children have the highest uninsured rates (11.8%), followed by those who are Hispanic (11.4%) and non-Hispanic Black (5.9%). 

Targeting new and expectant parents can also lead to increased child enrollment, since infants born to people on Medicaid and CHIP are automatically deemed eligible for one year, CMS said.


“At HHS, it is a top priority to make high-quality health care accessible and affordable for every American,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This past year, through unprecedented investments in outreach and enrollment efforts, a record-breaking 14.5 million people signed up for health care coverage through the ACA Marketplace. With today’s historic investment for children and parents, we will redouble our efforts to get families covered – and give them the peace of mind that comes with it.”

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com


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