New Options for Simple, Quick Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP

August 31, 2015

By Vikki Wachino

Our latest data, released today, show that as of June, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) grew by almost 13.1 million people since just before the first Marketplace open enrollment period in 2013.  And Medicaid and CHIP enrollment increased by more than 292,000 individuals since May. Simplified policies and systems advances that promote timely enrollment of eligible people in coverage underpin this progress.

Today, CMS is taking the next step in those efforts by making new opportunities available for states to help enroll people in Medicaid and CHIP quickly and easily.  Under new guidance released today, we are offering states an opportunity to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) data to support Medicaid eligibility determinations for some people who are certain to be Medicaid eligible at both initial application and renewal.

Under new guidance released today (http://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/sho-15-001.pdf), we are offering states a new state plan option to use gross income established in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to support Medicaid eligibility determinations for some people who are certain to be Medicaid-eligible at both initial application and renewal.  The new guidance also clarifies and extends the time frame that applies in states that are using or wish to take up targeted enrollment strategies under the waiver authority we established in 2013. The new state plan option builds on targeted enrollment strategies CMS established under waiver authority in 2013 for states to enroll or renew eligibility without requiring individuals to complete a new application or renewal form.  Those strategies, which six states have used to enroll more than 725,000 people, have been used to successfully and efficiently enroll individuals newly eligible for Medicaid coverage and helped states promote rapid enrollment, manage high application volumes, and manage systems constraints.

Tomorrow, as Alaska becomes the 30th state (including DC) to implement Medicaid expansion, it will use some of those strategies to help low-income adults enroll quickly so that they can get needed care. By connecting newly enrolled adults with health care, Medicaid is helping them identify and address health needs and promote their health and well-being. We have been pleased to work with our partners at USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service in strengthening the connection between SNAP and Medicaid so that more low-income families and individuals will have both the nutritional support and the health care they need to build financial security and health.

We welcome additional ideas as we continue to work with states on expanding Medicaid and on simplifying and streamlining enrollment of eligible people in Medicaid and CHIP.

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