Minnesota Supporting Families After Welfare Reform Program Sought to Remove Obstacles to Families Keeping Health and Food Stamp Benefits

Although many people leaving welfare under the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation retained eligibility for such programs as Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Food Stamps, studies suggested that from one-half to two-thirds of people leaving welfare were losing these benefits.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) designed a national program, Supporting Families After Welfare Reform: Access to Medicaid, SCHIP and Food Stamps, to remove administrative obstacles that prevent low-income families from securing health and Food Stamp benefits. In January 2000, RWJF's Board of Directors authorized $5.9 million for the program.

From January 2001 through September 2004, staff at the Minnesota Department of Human Services analyzed data regarding the reasons for the high rate of administrative-related denials and terminations in Medicaid and MinnesotaCare, and tested strategies to reduce those denials and terminations. As a result, staff at the Department of Human Services:

  • Revised client notices.
  • Rewrote eligibility manuals.
  • Created an online training program for workers.
  • Established a website through which beneficiaries could pay health premiums online.

Key Results

The team and workgroup members worked with human services department staff and:

  • Incorporated the text of new notices into the state's health program computer system.
  • Rewrote the eligibility policy manual and put it online.
  • Created an "E-Learning" experience, in which staff participates in training online.
  • Through the reminder calls, reduced denials for failure to comply with administrative procedures by 37 percent, compared to the previous five-month average.
  • Created a website that allows recipients to pay their MinnesotaCare health care premiums online by credit card or by authorizing payment from their checking account.