From 1999 to 2001, staff at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, a nonprofit child advocacy organization located in Little Rock, led a statewide coalition in an effort to increase the number of eligible children in the state enrolled in government-funded health insurance programs.
Efforts focused chiefly on outreach, simplification of enrollment procedures and forms, and coordination among agencies.
The effort, called the ARKids First Direct Outreach Project, was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Covering Kids®: A National Health Initiative for Low-Income Uninsured Children national program.
The Covering Kids project in Arkansas accomplished the following:
- The number of children enrolled in ARKids First increased 78 percent increase since 1999.
- The social value and visibility of health insurance for children was raised statewide, according to the project director; the project played a significant part in this.
- The state simplified enrollment processes by:
- Removing the assets test from the ARKids First application form.
- Switching to self-declaration of families' income (from verification of income).
- Using a common mail-in application for the two kinds of insurance.
- Simplifying the application form itself.
- The Department of Education and the state Division of Medicaid agreed to reimburse 50 percent of the school nurses' cost in doing outreach to enroll students in ARKids began in September 2001.
- Coalition partners continued to insulate Medicare from threatened state budget cuts.