NLC Awards Eight Grants of Up To $260,000 for Implementing Health Benefit Outreach Campaigns

July 14, 2014

By Lauren Greenawalt

NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF Institute) has selected eight cities to receive grants and technical assistance to implement outreach campaigns directed at enrolling eligible families and children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Selected cities include:

  • Dallas, Tex.
  • Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Garden City, Mich.
  • Hattiesburg, Miss.
  • New Bedford, Mass.
  • Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Providence, R.I.
  • Savannah, Ga.

As part of the YEF Institute’s Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families (CEHACF) initiative, funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, selected cities will receive up to $260,000 per city in funding and intensive technical assistance over the next 18 months. The CEHACF initiative is a three-year project conducted by the YEF Institute with a goal to maximize participation of children and families in Medicaid and CHIP. The eight grants represent the third and final phase of the initiative focused on implementation of campaign business plans developed during a six-month planning phase of the project.  During the planning phase, 12 cities were provided with smaller planning grants and technical assistance.  The first phase of the project included two leadership academies which provided training for teams from 22 cities on how to build a health outreach campaign.

Mayor Bill Peduto is eager to implement his health outreach campaign in Pittsburgh with support from the NLC grant. "One of the great things about Pittsburgh is our commitment to ensuring that all our children are enrolled in health care and stay enrolled.  Being selected for the NLC CEHACF project will help us to put strategies in place to reach 100 percent coverage and then other cities can look to our model and repeat it across the United States."

The eight cities receiving implementation grants were selected based on the quality of their campaign business plans and their commitment to children’s health.

Medicaid and CHIP are the nation’s two largest public health insurance programs for working and low-income families. Benefits under these programs include inpatient and outpatient hospital services, low- or no-cost screenings and preventative services, and prescription drugs. Families may enroll in Medicaid and CHIP year-round, since there is no open enrollment period for these programs.

“As a nation, we’ve made significant progress on enrolling eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP, but millions of children who qualify for coverage under these programs still need to sign up.  Cities are vital partners in outreach and enrollment efforts,” said Cindy Mann, Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “We applaud [the] National League of Cities for its leadership and support.”  

Cities have a vested interest in connecting families to Medicaid and CHIP because access to health insurance leads to better health and educational outcomes for children. Various studies have shown that insured children are healthier than uninsured children, who often fail to receive necessary medical services. Children with health insurance also have fewer school absences and experience greater academic success than children without health insurance. One study found that state average daily attendance rates increases as enrollment in CHIP increases. Another study found that expanding health care coverage for children correlates with higher high school completion, college attendance, and college completion rates.

Selected cities are creative in how they will use the grants to connect their children and families to health insurance. For example, the Cover Jacksonville campaign will build capacity by training community stakeholders to become Enrollment Assisters and raise awareness of health coverage opportunities through phone banks and outreach. The campaign will create enrollment services at 25 new sites throughout Duval County and establish a single point of access for enrollment information and assistance. The city is also partnering with the Duval County Public Schools to identify uninsured students and enroll them in health insurance.

Additional details around city outreach campaigns will be highlighted during a joint webinar with NLC and CMS on July 29 at 2 p.m. eastern daylight time. NLC President and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and CMS Deputy Administrator/Director Cindy Mann will discuss insights on how city leaders can develop outreach strategies to connect children and families to health insurance. The webinar will also address new research by Matt Buettgens from the Urban Institute on how America’s cities benefit when more residents have health insurance.

For additional information on the CEHACF initiative, contact Chuan Teng at (202) 626-3041 or teng@nlc.org or Dawn Schluckebier at (202) 626-3040 or schluckebier@nlc.org. Detailed outreach campaign profiles for each city awarded and implementation grant will be posted on NLC’s webpage in fall 2014.