CMS launches effort to get children covered through Medicaid, CHIP

The federal government plans to spend $32 million in a campaign to boost health coverage among children eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announcement comes as a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) highlights the differences in care access, quality and cost in healthcare options for children in households with low-to-moderate incomes.

"Health coverage gives children access to the care they need to stay healthy and gives families the security of knowing their kids and household budgets are protected." Vikki Wachino, deputy administrator of CMS and director of Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, said in the announcement. "By connecting eligible children to Medicaid and CHIP, these grants will help to ensure that children can more fully participate in childhood activities and are more prepared to succeed in school."

The JAMA study found that children insured by Medicaid and CHIP were significantly more likely to receive preventive medical and dental visits compared to privately insured children. Additionally, privately insured children with special healthcare needs had caregivers who reported significantly greater problems accessing specialty care and expressed greater frustration obtaining healthcare services than did caregivers of children insured by Medicaid.

State and local governments, American Indian tribes and tribal organizations, nonprofit organizations and school districts will be able to apply for federal grants to conduct children's coverage outreach activitites, the CMS announcement states, and the funding will last for two years.

Even with these efforts on the part of CMS, the future of CHIP remains uncertain. Officials already are looking ahead to 2017 and weighing options as to what to do should the program cease to exist, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the CMS announcement
- here is the JAMA study (subscription may be required)