CMS announced the availability of $48 million in “Connecting Kids to Coverage” outreach and enrollment grants and not a moment too soon. As we recently reported, our nation’s progress on children’s health coverage actually reversed course last year registering the first statistically significant increase in the child uninsured rate in a decade. As a majority of uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) but are not enrolled, outreach and enrollment assistance is crucial to getting our nation back on track and putting more children on a path to health coverage.
The outreach and enrollment grants will range from $500,000 to $1.5 million over a three-year period. Those interested in applying for a grant must file a letter of intent by January 4 and submit an application by January 28. CMS expects to announce the award recipients in June 2019. It’s unfortunate that the Congressional delay in passing the CHIP reauthorization legislation meant this round of funding was not out in time for the back-to-school period this year but, I’m hopeful that grantees will have the funding in hand in time to promote enrollment during this critical season next year.
Outreach efforts, as well as measures to simplify eligibility and enrollment procedures and expand coverage to more parents, have helped reduce the rate of uninsured children to a record low in recent years. While outreach grants can’t do it alone, they are an important step in getting all of our nation’s children connected to health coverage.