Ensuring Continuous Health Coverage for New York's Children: Lessons from the REACH-Out Project, 2011–2013
Elisabeth Ryden Benjamin, Arianne Slagle, Amanda Peden
Summary: New York’s public insurance programs are an important source of health insurance coverage for children. Yet, historically, thousands of eligible children lose coverage each month. The complex renewal process and the lack of available assistance for families who need it contribute to this problem. As the state moves forward with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the effort to enroll New York’s uninsured children into quality, affordable health insurance programs is being radically streamlined. As of August, 2014 nearly 350,000 children had enrolled into Medicaid and Child Health Plus through the NY State of Health Marketplace. To maintain these impressive coverage gains, a comparably robust effort must be made to guarantee continuous coverage when children come up for their annual renewal. In 2011, the Community Service Society of New York (CSS) received funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) Outreach and Enrollment grant program to address the issue of retaining children in coverage. In partnership with the NY State Department of Health, the Children’s Defense Fund-NY, and the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, CSS implemented the Retention and Enrollment Assistance through Community and Healthcare Outreach (REACH-Out) project. The lessons learned through the project demonstrate the importance of using community-based partners to reach target populations through multiple forms of outreach to ensure that contact is made prior to enrollee renewal dates. While the landscape for health insurance renewals has changed considerably since the close of the REACH-Out project and the opening of the NY State of Health Marketplace, a concerted effort will still need to be made to ensure continuity of coverage for all children, and indeed for all New Yorkers.
Issues: Access to Health Care