The Children’s Alliance is proud to accept the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge announced by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services. Today, Secretary Sebelius called upon the nation to enroll the nearly five million children who are currently eligible but uninsured into health coverage within the next five years.
As a result of Washington’s commitment that all children have health coverage, thousands of kids have access to care that they need to grow and thrive. Through options that exist today, including Apple Health for Kids, we can make sure that no child goes uninsured.
While the challenge is open to anyone, it is vital that state governments (who administer children’s health coverage) accept the challenge. Elements of the challenge include:
- Cutting red tape – simplifying the enrollment and renewal process will eliminate unnecessary barriers.
- Capitalizing on technology – new strategies will make it easier for families to participate.
- Creating opportunities to sign up – going to families where they are will increase awareness and make it easier to enroll.
- Focus on retention – too many children lose coverage at renewal time, even though they are still eligible.
- Forge partnerships – we all have a role in helping to connect kids to coverage.
The challenge comes at the very time that we are learning more about children who are uninsured, despite being eligible for coverage. According to a new Urban Institute report, as of 2008, many of these children are in lower income groups (less than 133% of the federal poverty level), live in mixed-status families, or have parents who are non-English speakers are more likely to be uninsured. Of the 7.3 million uninsured children nationwide, 4.4 million children, or 65%, are currently eligible for public health programs.
How does Washington compare to other states? We are right in the middle of the pack with a rank of #25. According to the 2008 State Population Survey, which provides data for the same year as this report, nearly 78,000 kids were uninsured, of which 54,000 were eligible for health coverage. That means that 69% of all uninsured children in our state did not have access to the care they need.
The good news is that we have made some great strides in the past few years to ensure that Apple Health for Kids is available to all children. We have implemented many of the steps identified in the Challenge, including simplifying enrollment and renewals, investing in capacity to identify and enroll children, and making connections to kids where they are, including schools.
Our state is on the right track but needs to implement proven strategies such as express lane eligibility (which allows the state to use data from other programs such as Basic Food to identify eligible kids). This will allow us to facilitate coverage for thousands of kids overnight. Washington also needs to draw upon community-based expertise to identify kids who are eligible but unenrolled in coverage.
We all have a role in making sure that all kids can get health care. We invite you to join us in accepting the Challenge to Connect Kids to Coverage.
- Lan Nguyen, Health Policy Coordinator
Who And Where Are The Children Yet To Enroll In Medicaid and The Children’s Health Insurance Program?
Who And Where Are The Children Yet To Enroll In Medicaid and The Children’s Health Insurance Program? Technical Appendix
Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services http://www.cms.gov/
Insure Kids Now http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/