government

States get Medicaid bonuses for enrolling children

Fifteen are rewarded for streamlining their applications and signing up more uninsured kids.

By Doug Trapp — Posted Jan. 13, 2011

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Fifteen states are receiving a total of $206 million in performance bonuses for enrolling uninsured children in Medicaid. Alabama is again the largest recipient.

The bonuses were made available through the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, signed into law by President Obama in February 2009. Last year, the Dept. of Health and Human Services awarded $75 million in bonuses to 10 states. The rewards program will continue through 2013.

Alabama will get nearly $55 million this year, according to a Dec. 27, 2010, HHS announcement. "Receiving this bonus obviously means a lot for our state, budget-wise," said Alabama Gov. Bob Riley. "More importantly, it means ensuring a struggling family out there never has to choose between putting food on the table and filling a child's prescription."

HHS gave the bonuses to states that took at least five of eight actions to streamline their enrollment and renewal processes. HHS also compared the number of uninsured children that states enrolled in their Medicaid programs with baseline projections by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Children's Medicaid enrollment in Alabama increased from an annual average of 383,000 in fiscal 2007 to 516,000 in fiscal 2010, which ended in October in Alabama, said Riley spokesman Todd Stacy.

Alabama also qualified for the bonuses by:

  • Providing 12 months of continuous enrollment.
  • Removing the requirement for an in-person interview to qualify for coverage.
  • Streamlining the eligibility renewal process.
  • Eliminating asset limits for children and pregnant women.
  • Using a joint application for Medicaid and the state's Children's Health Insurance Program.

Wisconsin is receiving a $23 million bonus, the second largest this year, after streamlining its application process in similar ways to Alabama's. The average number of children enrolled in Wisconsin's Medicaid program increased by 121,000 between 2007 and 2010, according to the state's Medicaid agency.

The other states receiving bonuses this year are Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon and Washington.

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