Making Health Care a Reality for Low-Income Children and Families

After Congress established the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in 1997 in response to large numbers of uninsured children in low-income working families, states took this unique opportunity to expand children's coverage and introduce program innovations.

To build on this opportunity, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funded a national initiative—Covering Kids (CK)—in 1999 to increase children's enrollment in SCHIP and Medicaid. In 2002, RWJF extended CK to families as well as children and renamed it Covering Kids & Families (CKF).

A wide-ranging independent evaluation of CKF funded by RWJF and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Health Management Associates and the Urban Institute is documenting the success of CKF in increasing SCHIP and Medicaid enrollment. This brief reviews evaluation findings about best practices in this area. For policy-makers considering SCHIP reauthorization, this brief provides information about the potential value of outreach and other types of program support. The study shows that CKF has helped simplify enrollment and coordinate SCHIP and Medicaid and that such changes are key to sustained enrollment.

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