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March 12, 2009

CONTACT: EOHHS: Jennifer Kritz,, (o) 617-573-1612 or (c) 857-488-9983
UMASS: Alison Duffy,, (o) 508-856-2000
March 12, 2009

Massachusetts Selected As Part of National Initiative to Increase Coverage for Uninsured Children
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Awards Massachusetts $1 Million to Help Maximize Children’s Enrollment in Health Insurance
BOSTON — The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded $1 million to Massachusetts’ Office of Medicaid, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School, to help support enrollment of eligible children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) over the next four years. One of only eight states to receive funding from a field of 28 applicants, Massachusetts was selected based on its proven success in and ongoing commitment to increasing children’s health insurance enrollment.

The launch of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Maximizing Enrollment for Kids program follows Congress’ recent expansion and reauthorization of CHIP, which provides insurance coverage to children ages 0-19 in families with incomes at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level. In Massachusetts, the CHIP program is integrated into the state’s Medicaid program, and funding will help support efforts to increase enrollment and retention of eligible children.

“The Office of Medicaid is honored to receive this award and optimistic that our team of dedicated staff will enable us to achieve the goal of full insurance coverage for Massachusetts children,” said Medicaid Director Tom Dehner. “This grant will provide Massachusetts with a wealth of technical assistance and a systematic, objective analysis of our eligibility, enrollment and retention systems and practices. We sincerely thank the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for this valuable opportunity to strengthen our health care reform efforts.”

“The University of Massachusetts Medical School is pleased with the opportunity to work with our agency partner and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on this important initiative,” said Thomas D. Manning, UMass Medical School’s Deputy Chancellor. “Our collaboration with the Office of Medicaid and these new resources will enable us to enroll the remaining uninsured Massachusetts children into appropriate health insurance programs. This will ultimately allow all Massachusetts kids to receive the care they need. We applaud the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for its dedication to children nationwide and for supporting our commitment to achieving the goal of full insurance for Massachusetts children.”

Recent U.S. Census data indicates that 8.7 million children (11.7%) are uninsured in the United States, with most of these children eligible for, but not enrolled in, public health insurance. In Massachusetts, the state estimates that only 1.2% of children are uninsured, and only 2-3% of likely CHIP-eligible children remain unenrolled. Massachusetts has the lowest rate of uninsurance for children in the nation. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Massachusetts hopes to become the first state to achieve full participation for eligible children.

As part of the grant, the Office of Medicaid 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 develop and implement plans to increase enrollment and renewal of eligible children; peer-to-peer learning opportunities; and assistance with data collection and analysis to help the state measure its progress.

Building on more than 20 years of collaboration, the Office of Medicaid and the UMass Medical School will partner in the administration of the Maximizing Enrollment for Kids program. UMass Medical School’s Center for Health Care Financing oversees the premium assistance program that includes payment of health insurance premiums to CHIP families that have access to employer- sponsored health insurance.

Seven other states have been awarded up to $1 million, plus significant technical assistance, as part of this four-year initiative. In addition to Massachusetts, the states chosen to participate in Maximizing Enrollment for Kids include Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana New York, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The initiative is under the direction of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), which serves as the national program office for Maximizing Enrollment for Kids.

For more information about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Maximizing Enrollment for Kids initiative, visit:

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