CHIP Momentum Building in Washington, D.C.

We have seen encouraging signs of progress at the federal level around extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP, known as the Child Health Plan Plus, or CHP+, in Colorado). Federal funding for CHIP will expire in September 2015 if Congress does not act to extend it. President Obama’s proposed budget, released earlier this month, includes four more years of funding for CHIP. Legislation to extend CHIP has also been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate.  While these bills contain variations in other policy components of the program, both bills would extend funding for CHIP through 2019. CHIP KF 2.20.15

We are also excited to see bipartisan advocacy about the need for Congress to act quickly to extend CHIP funding. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Frist, former Republican senator from Tennessee, recently published an opinion piece in the New York Times urging Congress to take action to extend CHIP funding as soon as possible in order to give state legislatures time for planning and budgeting during their legislative sessions. A bi-partisan letter sent this week by the National Governors Association to the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce echoed this request and asked Congress to provide states certainty by extending CHIP, which is broadly supported by state governors.

We are hopeful that Congress will take action on CHIP as early as March. Stay tuned for additional updates and opportunities to take action on this critical issue for children’s health coverage. You can also visit CHIP Works Colorado on the All Kids Covered website to learn more and read stories about families and individuals in Colorado who rely on CHIP.

 

 

All Kids Covered Releases Brief on Health Care Quality

This week All Kids Covered released a new brief looking at the quality of health care services Colorado kids have access to and are using. While we have seen encouraging progress in getting kids insured, Colorado children are not consistently accessing quality care. Analysis of the data included in the brief show that certain groups of children are at risk for poorer access to quality care because of their race and ethnicity, age, sex, income, insurance type, and other social factors. Ensuring all kids, no matter their background or where they live, have access to what’s needed to learn and grow ensures they have access to every opportunity to succeed.KF 1.30.15 AKC

Health Reform Brings Significant Gains in Kids’ Health Care Coverage

Health advocates on Thursday celebrated the announcement from the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) that nearly 23,000 additional children were enrolled in Medicaid and the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) since Oct. 1, 2013 as a result of health reform outreach efforts.

New health coverage options for adults, particularly parents, made available through health reform has led to new enrollment among children that have historically been eligible for Medicaid and CHP+, but not enrolled in the programs. While there has not been new public coverage eligibility for children since 2010, experience shows that eligible but not enrolled (EBNE) children are more likely to gain coverage if their parents have coverage. Historically, reaching this population has been very difficult. Most recent estimates from the Colorado Health Institute indicate that, in 2012, of the approximately 116,000 uninsured children, 81,600 are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid or CHP+, which is why today’s enrollment data from HCPF is so encouraging. Read the All Kids Covered Press release for more information.

Twelve Months Coverage Policy A Big Win for Health of Colorado Kids

This week, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing announced that children in Medicaid will be able to keep their coverage for 12 months, regardless of changes in family size or income. This is a huge win for Colorado’s kids and families! For too long children have cycled on and off of Medicaid as small changes in family income have affected eligibility. This bouncing on and off of the program (sometimes referred to as “churn”) disrupts the child’s relationship with their health care provider and creates costly administrative work for health care providers and the state. Colorado has had one of the highest churn rates in the country, as illustrated by this map reflecting data from 2011.

With 12 months of guaranteed coverage in place, families will have coverage they can count on. This keeps kids healthy and gives families peace of mind that they’ll have access to affordable services when their kids are sick or injured. It will also reduce administrative burdens for health care providers and the state, increasing efficiency for Medicaid overall.

“In order to maximize the benefit of health insurance, it needs to be consistent and reliable. Children who have continuous coverage are more likely to receive high quality health care in medical homes instead of emergency rooms,” said Dr. Steve Federico, Children’s Campaign Board Member  and former President of the Colorado Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing estimates that more than 530,000 Colorado children will benefit from this change. The Children’s Campaign and All Kids Covered Colorado celebrate this success and thank Gov. John Hickenlooper, HCPF Director Sue Birch and the many partners we have worked with during the past eight years to bring this policy change to Colorado. Read more about the announcement in The Denver Post and Health News Colorado.

Health Insurance Access and Coverage Subject of This Week’s Lunch and Learn

The Children’s Campaign partnered with All Kids Covered this week to host the second Lunch and Learn in our 2014 series, this time focusing on child health. The presentation included data on the state of kids’ coverage and highlights from the report recently released by All Kids Covered, The Future of Children’s Coverage in Colorado. The percentage of children who are uninsured in Colorado has improved in recent years with about 8 percent of children under age 18 uninsured, down from 14 percent between 2004 and 2006. This leaves us with a lot to celebrate, but as was highlighted during the discussion, there is still much to be done to protect these gains and ensure all Colorado kids are able to grow healthy and strong.

Cody Belzley, Children’s Campaign Vice President of Health Initiatives, highlighted the key issues our state must continue focusing on, including affordability, the future of the federal CHIP program, coverage for immigrant children, and others. “We’ve come a long way in gaining meaningful access to care for kids in Colorado since All Kids Covered first convened in 2006,” Belzley said. “We need to protect the gains we’ve made and continue to meet the health needs of children as we move forward with strengthening our health care system.”

Join us for our next Lunch and Learn event on early childhood development and learning, March 12 from noon to 1 p.m. at our offices, 1580 Lincoln Street, Suite 420. RSVP to Hanna Nichols at hanna@coloradokids.org.

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Legislative staff heard from All Kids Covered for this week’s Lunch and Learn event at the Children’s Campaign, including Cody Belzley, far left, Vice President of Health Initiatives for the Children’s Campaign.

 

Colorado Earns More than $58 Million for Leadership on Kids’ Health Coverage

Colorado will receive a bonus payment of $58.5 million in recognition of its leadership role in getting more children health insurance coverage in 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Monday. This is the largest amount awarded to any state this year under the enrollment incentive program authorized by the 2009 federal CHIP reauthorization legislation. Colorado was one of 23 states recognized in 2013 for implementing measures that make it easier for families to enroll in public health care programs for which they are eligible. Since 2010, Colorado has received more than $155 million in performance bonuses. Common sense changes, such as streamlining applications and using information from other public benefits to determine eligibility for Medicaid and CHP+, improve customer experiences and increase administrative efficiency for the state and counties.

We congratulate and thank Gov. John Hickenlooper, state legislators and Health Care Policy and Financing Director Sue Birch for their continued commitment to and leadership in improving child health care coverage.

This federal award recognizes the progress Colorado has made, with an understanding that there is more to be done. As we look to 2014 and work toward other state health reforms, we need to  keep our eye on children to make sure all kids have the quality, affordable care that gives them a chance to succeed. In December, All Kids Covered released The Future of Children’s Health Coverage in Colorado: Policy Considerations for Insuring Colorado’s Kids. The report details Colorado’s successes in child health coverage and identifies seven priorities for ensuring continued gains in the context of on-going health reform implementation.

Continued Focus on Children’s Coverage Needed as Health Reform Rolls Out in Colorado

A coalition of child health advocates today urged Colorado policy makers to continue working toward covering all kids as health reform is implemented. Colorado has made great strides toward its goal of providing quality, affordable health care coverage for all children, according to a new report from the All Kids Covered Coalition. Advocates and policy makers should consider seven key areas of focus to ensure Colorado maximizes the potential of health reform to benefit kids and doesn’t lose ground on coverage for children as the health insurance system is overhauled.

The report, The Future of Children’s Health Care Coverage in Colorado, details conditions in the past few years that helped reduce the number of uninsured children—including a shared commitment to children’s health care among the state’s leaders, regardless of party affiliation.

“Health reform has created more opportunities to help Colorado’s families—especially children—get the health care coverage they need to stay healthy,” said Cody Belzley, Vice President for Health Initiatives at the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “But advocates must remain vigilant to ensure that priorities for children aren’t lost during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”

The full report is available on the All Kids Covered website, along with an executive summary.

KidsFlash Fast Fact – April 26, 2013

In 2010, 19 percent of all children in Colorado had at least one parent who was uninsured at some point during the year, below the national average of 23 percent. Research shows that when parents are covered by health insurance, their children are also more likely to be covered and are less likely to experience a gap in health care coverage. For more information about how Colorado compares to states around the country, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

Legislators and Partners Join for Lunch & Learn on Child Health

Legislators and Partners Join for Lunch & Learn on Child Health
Colorado legislators and other partners who attended this week’s Child Health Lunch & Learn explored the history of child health insurance coverage and the opportunities they have this session to ensure all Colorado kids have access to health services they need to grow up strong. The event was co-hosted by the All Kids Covered coalition and the Colorado Children’s Campaign.

Colorado has made great strides in getting kids covered, but some 114,000 kids, or about 9 percent of all Colorado children, remain uninsured. A bill introduced this year, Senate Bill 13-008, would streamline the enrollment process by eliminating the three-month waiting period to enroll in Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) for children who are currently covered through an employer-supported plan. The proposed change removes red tape for families and makes coverage more accessible. It also allows Colorado to better align with the national requirement that everyone have health insurance.

 

KidsFlash Fast Fact – Feb. 8, 2013

In 2011, 9.7 percent of all Colorado kids under age 19 were uninsured, according to a Colorado Health Institute analysis of data from the American Community Survey. Although the percentage of uninsured Colorado children has declined in recent years, it remains high in several counties. In Rio Blanco, Garfield, Jackson, Moffat and Routt counties, nearly 20 percent of all children under 19 were uninsured in 2011. For data on health coverage in your county, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.