Nine States Get $72.6M HHS Bonus for Expanding Children's Coverage

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , December 18, 2009

Alabama will get a $39.1 million "performance bonus" for expanding enrollment and improving access to healthcare for children through Medicaid and CHIP, HHS announced today.

The Christmas bonus represents more than half of the $72.6 million in bonuses to nine states that was included in the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization law, which also sets performance goals that states must meet to qualify for a bonus.

The eight other states receiving bonus money are: Alaska ($789,000); Illinois ($9.1 million); Louisiana ($1.5 million); Michigan ($3.7 million); New Jersey ($4.2 million); New Mexico ($5.1 million); Oregon ($1.6 million); and Washington ($7.2 million).

States had to meet two performance goals under CHIPRA to get the bonus. First, they had to adopt at least five of eight listed program features—such as providing 12 months of continuous eligibility, using a joint application for both Medicaid and the CHIP, and streamlining eligibility renewal processes—that are known to encourage enrollment and retention of eligible children. States also had to document significant increases in Medicaid enrollment among children in the past year.

A short-term boost in Medicaid reimbursement rates authorized by the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also provided relief to states with weak economies, enabling them to extend care to eligible children.

Today's announcement follows the release of a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, which credited ARRA and CHIPRA with enabling 26 states to expanded and/or simplified their Medicaid and CHIP programs in 2009.

CMS also released a letter to state health officials today with instructions on the criteria for qualifying for a bonus payment in future years.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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