HHS announced that seven new states are among those receiving performance incentives this year under the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act.
Seven more states qualify for CHIP incentives
Connecticut, Georgia, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina and Virginia didn't appear on the list of incentive winners last year, HHS officials said Wednesday when they announced the $296.5 million in bonuses for fiscal 2011. The money rewards states that hit enrollment target numbers for CHIP and that make it easier to enroll children in the insurance program. The Obama administration established the incentive program in 2009. They hail the program as a success but still want more states to improve.
"There are millions of kids today who are just a few easy steps away to their needed checkups and medicine," CMS acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said during a conference call with reporters.
Last year, according to a CMS fact sheet (PDF), the CMS awarded more than $216 million in performance bonuses to 16 states: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. The more eligible children the states enrolled, the larger the bonus.
"Part of the reason for the bonus is that it helps defray the costs the state has already incurred by adding more kids to the program," said Cindy Mann, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, on the same conference call.
The incentives also reward states for increasing the program's accessibility by reducing red tape and quickly establishing a child's eligibility for the program. The use of electronic medical records is one way to improve access, the CMS noted. Tapping into data from other organizations that already have the information needed to determine eligibility for CHIP is another. "Simplification works," Mann said.
There are eight program features meant to encourage enrollment that the CMS tracks. A state must meet the requirements in five of those categories to be eligible for a bonus. Idaho, with $1.3 million, received the lowest amount, while Maryland received the largest with $28.3 million.
A recent CMS survey found that 93% of parents said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their child's coverage under CHIP, Mann added.
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