How Analysis, Advocacy, and Collaboration Earned Connecticut $5 Million

January 13, 2012

Mary Alice Lee, Sharon Langer and Jamey Bell of CT Voices, Claudette Beaulieu of DSS, and Patricia Baker of CT Health at the 10/26/11 meeting of the Covering Kids and Families

The mission of the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) is to improve the health status of people in Connecticut, particularly the un-served and underserved. Part of doing this work involves funding policy analysts, advocates and others who work on issues related to Medicaid and Medicaid enrollment.

In 2009, President Obama signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA), which “provided states with significant new funding, new programmatic options, and a range of new incentives for covering children.” Thanks to a general operating support grant from CT Health, as well as additional funding from the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities(CBPP) and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Connecticut Voices for Children (CT Voices), was able to work with state agency staff, legislators, and community-based outreach workers to simplify application processes and increase enrollment in the HUSKY Program.  Based on successes in the Program, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded Connecticut $5.2 million in federal bonus money under CHIPRA. The state received this “performance bonus” as a reward for its efforts to enroll more children into HUSKY A, Connecticut’s Medicaid program. (Click here to learn more about the other 22 states who were awarded bonuses).

To get a better sense of the state’s efforts to enroll more children in Medicaid, I spoke with Mary Alice Lee, PhD, and Sharon Langer, Senior Policy Fellows at CT Voices.

“This is a story of effective collaboration between the public and private sector,” said Mary Alice. “State agencies don’t always have the resources to do the analyses and investigation necessary, and that’s where we came in. We were able to provide the Department of Social Services (DSS), with information and the data they needed to influence policy-makers to help them achieve their objective of getting more kids enrolled into Medicaid.”

Their work began in 2009 once CHIPRA was signed into law.  Congress included an incentive, a performance bonus based on a state’s adoption of at least five out of eight strategies to simplify the enrollment process and increase overall enrollment.

In the spring of 2009, Connecticut already had four of those five strategies in place, so CT Voices started to pull together information that state agency staff would need to convince elected officials to implement at least one additional strategy to boost Medicaid enrollment.

With the general operating support money, CT Voices wrote a policy brief urging the adoption of more strategies to bring that bonus federal funding into the state. In the meantime, thanks to state funding and support from the Hartford Foundation, CT Voices was analyzing enrollment data to identify additional information on turnover, gaps in coverage, and disenrollment of eligible children.

Armed with enrollment data analysis, CT Voices worked with the CBPP to identify additional bonus dollars Connecticut could qualify for. Thanks to Voices analysis and information, DSS and OPM brought forth the proposal to adopt an additional simplification strategy during the September 2010 special session of the general assembly.   Once passed into law, this new simplification strategy was adopted and implemented in April of 2011.

This got Connecticut to the five-strategy threshold – and Connecticut also saw increased enrollment. Shortly thereafter, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced that Connecticut had qualified for the performance bonus.

“As long as we keep these five strategies in place and continue to increase enrollment, Connecticut can continue to qualify for bonuses in the upcoming years,” said Sharon. “Ideally, we also want to adopt more strategies to make enrollment even easier for eligible children.”

CT Voices’ work doesn’t stop there. It also spearheads Covering Connecticut’s Kids and Families, a statewide coalition of community-based service providers and Department of Social Services staff who work together to improve outreach and retention in the program.

Now we turn it over to you. What questions would you have for CT Voices? What additional strategies can organizations adopt to prioritize our – and your – priority areas?

CT Health continues to support CT Voices.

 

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