CMS: $49 million in grants to increase Medicaid and CHIP enrollment

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services are open. $49.4 million in grant funding Thursday to promote enrollment and retention of children, parents, and pregnant women in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Health and Human Services Minister Xavier Becerra told reporters on the phone Thursday that this is the first time Medicaid and CHIP retention grants have also targeted pregnant women.

Organizations, including state and local governments, tribal organizations, nonprofits, schools, and others, can apply for up to $1.5 million each over three years to help more children get health coverage. Applications are accepted until March 28.

More than half over 4 million uninsured children in the country are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, according to HHS. American Indian and First Nations children have the highest uninsured rate at 11.8%, followed by Hispanic children at 11.4% and Black children at 5.9%. Children may be eligible for CHIP coverage if their families earn more than what is required for Medicaid but low enough that they cannot afford other options.

Medicaid also covers 42% of births in the country, and expanding coverage for pregnant women will help reach more children, as babies born under Medicaid are usually eligible for coverage for a year. CMS will offer states a streamlined process to renew postpartum Medicaid coverage for 12 months starting in April. Currently, states are only required to offer 60 days of postpartum coverage.

CMS encourages grant applicants to work with schools and other youth-focused programs, use social media to connect with potential applicants, work with parent mentors and community health workers, and more.

“CMS is using every tool available to increase access to coverage and care,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-Lasur said in a press release. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to advancing health equity and encourages organizations that serve children, their parents, and pregnant women in diverse and low-income communities to apply. These organizations play a key role in connecting people to insurance, as families and individuals often seek help from community organizations they know and trust.”

Since 2009, $216 million has been awarded to nearly 300 organizations to increase Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children. This new round of funding is in line with President Joe Biden’s January 2021 executive order to strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and his ongoing efforts to improve health equity.

CMS also announced On Thursday, a record 14.5 million people signed up for exchange plans during the most recent open enrollment period, which ended in most states on Jan. 15. California, D.C., Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island will continue to register. through January 31, and the District of Columbia, Colorado, Maryland, and New York have extended special enrollment periods due to COVID-19.

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