Using Information from Income Tax Forms to Target Medicaid and CHIP Outreach

By utilizing state tax return information and other state records, a new effort by Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is working to reach and enroll the nearly 380,000 children potentially eligible for enrollment in public health insurance in the state, according to a new issue brief released today by the State Health Access Reform Evaluation (SHARE) program. The issue brief, compiled by researchers at The Hilltop Institute at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), finds that Maryland officials were able to identify and target 27 percent of the state’s 1.4 million children who may be eligible for public health insurance. They did it through a combination of data sharing and reviewing modified tax forms made possible by Maryland’s Kids First Act.

With the passage of the Kids First Act, Maryland became one of three states using adjusted gross income and other state tax data to more effectively target insurance enrollment efforts. SHARE’s issue brief, Using Information from Income Tax Forms to Target Medicaid and CHIP Outreach: Preliminary Results of the Maryland Kids First Act, provides other states with lessons learned through the new law’s implementation, including:

  • determine whether data can be shared across state agencies;
  • annual income reported on income tax forms may fail to capture monthly or seasonal income fluctuation that may affect eligibility for public insurance programs;
  • mail letters/notices in small batches to ensure that the eligibility system’s capacity to process applications is not overwhelmed; and
  • consider expanding the self-employment section on the tax form so that applicable deductions and disregard rules can be considered in the initial review of whether an individual meets the program’s income eligibility standards.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created the SHARE program to support evaluations of state health policy reforms and develop resources to inform future state health reform efforts.