December 17, 2009

NM Congressional Delegation Announces $5 Million to Provide Health Care for More Children

WASHINGTON — Today, the New Mexico Congressional delegation announced that New Mexico is one of nine states to receive a Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHPRA) performance bonus of $5,084,179 for boosting enrollment among eligible, uninsured children, particularly the lowest income children eligible for Medicaid. The amount of money awarded to New Mexico was calculated based on the level of enrollment success and per capita State Medicaid expenditures for children.

"The goal of Medicaid and CHIP has been to provide health care to our nation's children. Unfortunately, many of the most vulnerable children are not enrolled in coverage despite their eligibility-this has been true in New Mexico and throughout the country. New Mexico earned this $5 million bonus because it is working to get these kids coverage," said Senator Jeff Bingaman, who wrote the "express-lane" provisions in the CHIP law that streamline the enrollment process and automatically enroll children in CHIP if they have deemed eligible for another public program such as School Lunch.

"Healthier children do better in school and will lead more productive, successful lives," said Senator Tom Udall. "Having the ability to enroll more of our low-income and uninsured children in the NewMexiKids program will prepare our state's youth to thrive."

"Every child in New Mexico deserves health care coverage," said Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1). "At a time when state budgets are being stretched, this money will bring direct relief to New Mexico families who would otherwise have to rely on costly emergency room care."

"Proper healthcare is something none of New Mexico's children should go without. As the owner of a small business in southern New Mexico, I made sure that my employees and their families were provided affordable healthcare options" said Representative Harry Teague (NM-2). "This targeted funding will be put to use quickly to help those families that need it most."

"During these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever to make sure that New Mexico's children have health insurance coverage," said Representative Ben Ray Luján (NM-3). "This funding will help children get the care they need while helping our state with much needed resources."

On Feb. 4, 2009, CHPRA was signed into law by President Obama. The law reauthorized the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIPRA finances CHIP through FY 2013. It will preserve coverage for the millions of children who rely on CHIP today and provide the resources for states to reach millions of additional uninsured children.

In order to qualify for the bonus payment, states must demonstrate that they have implemented at least five out of the eight program features identified in the CHIPRA statute that are known to promote enrollment and retention in children's coverage. These features must be in place for both CHIP and Medicaid. Some of these program features include providing 12 months of continuous enrollment, removing the requirement for an in-person interview in order to qualify for coverage, and streamlining the eligibility and renewal process using "express lane" reforms. States must also show that their Medicaid enrollment among children has increased above a target level set in the law.