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March 9, 2009

CONTACT:  Annie Thompson (217) 558-1543
March 9, 2009
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Provides $15 million to Help Maximize Children’s Enrollment in Health Insurance

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) will receive funding and support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to increase enrollment of eligible children in All Kids, which provides comprehensive health coverage to all uninsured Illinois children. In addition to increasing enrollment in All Kids, HFS will use the RWJF support to identify ways to keep children enrolled continuously as long as they are eligible. The Illinois Department of Human Services will partner with HFS in the project.

With All Kids, Illinois has been a national leader in efforts to provide healthcare coverage to all uninsured children. Today, HFS provides medical coverage for approximately 1.4 million children. Recognizing that some Illinois children remain uninsured, the department continues to explore new methods to reach families and enroll all eligible children in All Kids. In an effort to significantly increase the number of children with health coverage, the national RWJF initiative, Maximizing Enrollment for Kids, will provide funding and technical support to HFS in these efforts.

Funding will also be provided to seven other states. HFS was selected because Illinois has demonstrated a strong commitment to increasing children’s enrollment in public coverage programs, even in the face of difficult economic times. The Maximizing Enrollment for Kids program is being launched as states prepare to receive more federal support for their efforts to insure kids from the Congress and President Obama’s recent enactment of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA).

"During these difficult economic times, it is important that we build upon our success with All Kids," said HFS Director Barry S. Maram. "We have already taken steps to make enrollment more efficient by allowing parents to apply online, but we must continue to spread the word to parents so that every single uninsured child in Illinois can get and keep the health insurance they need to stay healthy and spend more time in the classroom learning and growing."

Under the direction of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), which serves as the national program office for Maximizing Enrollment for Kids, the grant will help Illinois officials strengthen systems, policies, and procedures to maximize enrollment and retention for eligible children. RWJF will measure the impact of these changes and will share findings nationwide throughout the four-year initiative.

Illinois was the first state in the nation to offer comprehensive healthcare to all uninsured children. Through All Kids, children receive coverage that includes doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care and medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma inhalers. Parents pay monthly income-based premiums that are slightly lower than they are on the private market.

Through this grant, Illinois will receive:

  • An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s enrollment and renewal systems, policies, and procedures;
  • Tailored technical assistance to help the state develop and implement plans to increase enrollment and renewal of eligible children;
  • Participation in peer-to-peer learning to share information with other states about challenges and effective strategies; and
  • Assistance with data collection and analysis to help the state measure its progress.

"In order to make inroads in reducing the ranks of uninsured children, we need to help states apply best practices for enrolling eligible children and keeping them enrolled for as long as they qualify," said Catherine Hess, the program’s director and a senior program director at NASHP. "This program also will help us and all states to learn more about the most effective ways to streamline enrollment and increase retention to cover more eligible children and youth."

The eight state agencies designated by their respective governors have been awarded up to $1 million, plus significant technical assistance, as part of this four-year initiative. Illinois’ share will be $988,187 over the four years of the grant. These funds may not be used to supplant existing financial support for All Kids and expenditures are subject to RWJF and NASHP approval.

In addition to Illinois, other states chosen to participate in Maximizing Enrollment for Kids include Alabama, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

For more information about Maximizing Enrollment for Kids or its grantees, visit

National Academy for State Health Policy

The National Academy for State Health Policy is an independent academy of state health policymakers working together to identify emerging issues, develop policy solutions, and improve state health policy and practice. NASHP provides a forum for constructive, nonpartisan work across branches and agencies of state government on critical health issues facing states.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and healthcare issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and healthcare of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and healthcare of those it serves. By helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.