December 30, 2011

CARDIN AND MIKULSKI CONGRATULATE MARYLAND FOR WINNING A FEDERAL PERFORMANCE BONUS TO HELP COVER COSTS OF PROVIDING MORE MARYLAND KIDS WITH HEALTH COVERAGE

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today praised Maryland’s dedication and innovation in improving access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that led to winning a $23.8 million “performance bonus” from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to cover the costs of providing more Maryland kids with health coverage. This is the second year in a row Maryland has received the bonus funding.

"The CHIP program makes it possible for our nation's low-income children to have access to important primary health care services, including dental care," said Senator Cardin. "I am so pleased that Maryland has made enrollment in the program a top priority, and this $23.8 million performance bonus will provide additional resources to ensure every Maryland child who is eligible for health care under CHIP is enrolled in the program."

“Hats off to Governor O’Malley and his team for saving lives and saving money by getting more kids covered and keeping more kids healthy,” Senator Mikulski said.  “Maryland is a leader and innovator in getting kids off to the right start in life. It begins with making access to health care a top priority. I fought to create the CHIP program in 1997. 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.” 

Performance bonuses provide additional federal funding for qualifying states that have taken specific steps to simplify Medicaid and CHIP enrollment and renewal processes, and have also increased enrollment of children.

Maryland took multiple steps to streamline its health coverage enrollment process. Applicants no longer have to appear for an in person interview, which can be a coverage barrier for families with working parents. And it uses an electronic database to verify family information to simplify the renewal process. The number of Maryland children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP coverage increased from more than 407,000 in 2007 to more than 545,000 in 2011. 

CHIP is a joint federal and state program that provides health insurance to children in low-income, working families. Under CHIP, children whose families cannot afford health insurance have access to doctor visits and medicines they need when they are sick and the checkups they need to stay well.  CHIP protects the health care coverage of nearly 6.7 million children, including more than 150,000 in Maryland.