The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced early this week that Washington is one of 15 states to receive a Children’s Health Performance Bonus. These funds recognize the efforts of states that are conducting outstanding work to enroll eligible children into health coverage.
This is the second year in a row that Washington has received this recognition; in 2009, our state was awarded a bonus of $7.9 million. Over these two years, Apple Health for Kids has brought our state $25.5 million in new, flexible federal funding. These bonus payments have been authorized by Congress through 2013.
Recent data from the 2010 Washington State Population Survey show that the percentage of children who do not have health insurance in our state has dropped over the last two years.This shows that Apple Health for Kids is both popular and successful in strengthening and expanding coverage during tough economic times.
We urge state policymakers to stand strong for healthy families by using the bonus award to sustain Apple Health for Kids for all eligible children in Washington. We call upon Gov. Gregoire and state lawmakers to use these funds to avoid the proposed loss of coverage for 27,000 children on March 1, 2011. Our state has spent years thoughtfully building children’s health coverage that is now meeting the needs of families, keeping worker productivity high, with a minimum of red tape.
Parents such as Children’s Alliance member Tracy Tiwebemal in Spokane know the value of health coverage for their kids and families. “I know what it’s like to lie awake at night and worry about a sick child. But thanks to Apple Health for Kids, my son has access to health care and prescription coverage. If the proposed cuts to Apple Health go through, there will be thousands of families forced to bear the agony of having no way to care for their sick children.”
More information about the performance bonus can be accessed through the Children’s Alliance’s fact sheet, which also includes responses from Gov. Gregoire, legislative leaders and health advocates.