Feds give states $307 million bonus for signing up kids for Medicaid

The Centers for Medicare and & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Monday that it has awarded $307 million in bonuses to 23 states that found ways to increase the enrollment of kids in Medicaid.

The bonuses are permitted under the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2009. This is the last of five years in which the CMS can award bonuses to states for boosting enrollment in Medicaid, the health program for low-income families funded jointly by states and the federal government.

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"States are working hard to ensure children get access to the health coverage they need," said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. "We are pleased to provide financial support to reward states that are reducing enrollment barriers and are connecting kids to coverage."

Under the law, bonuses can be given to states that take steps to streamline the process of enrolling kids in Medicaid. The $307 million is the second highest total award that the CMS has given during the five-year program; last year's award was the highest, at $318 million.

This year, Colorado received the highest award, at $58.5 million, and Maryland got the second highest award, at $43.5 million.

Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said the award reflects their state's effort to ensure children in lower income families can access health services.

"I fought to create the CHIP program in 1997," Miksulski said Tuesday. "I have been fighting ever since to expand coverage and increase payment to states. 

"States want to do the right thing, but they can't do it on their own. That's why I will keep standing up for a federal government that fulfills its responsibilities to America's families, America's children and America's future."

Nine states have received bonuses in each of the five years: Alabama, Alaska, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. 

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