The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day was not a quiet one in the world of children’s health. On December 27, 2010, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced that she had awarded 15 states 2010 Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPRA) performance bonuses for significantly increasing the number of children enrolled in Medicaid and streamlining enrollment and renewal processes. If you’re interested in the details behind how a state qualifies for CHIPRA performances bonuses, please see this document prepared by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Here at the New England Alliance for Children Health (NEACH), an initiative of Community Catalyst, we congratulate the 15 states that collectively received a total of more than $206 million in bonuses: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. Awards ranged from a high of nearly $55 million in Alaska to a low of just over $2.5 million in Kansas. Cindy Mann, the Deputy Administrator of CMS and Director of the Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey & Certification (CMCS), put it best when she pointed out that the “increase in both the number of states receiving awards and the amount distributed is particularly encouraging given the difficult economic times states are facing.” For more details about what these states did to qualify for an award, check out this terrific post by Vikki Wachino, the Director of Family and Children’s Health Programs Group at CMS over at Say Ahhh!, the children’s health policy blog run by NEACH’s close partners at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

We encourage every state to work to increase the enrollment of eligible but unenrolled children in Medicaid and CHIP. As we’ve blogged about in the past, Secretary Sebelius has initiated the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge to enroll the nearly five million uninsured children eligible for Medicaid and CHIP over the next five years. These 15 states show that it’s possible to make significant progress in the world of children’s health, even in the face of challenging economic circumstances.

—Patrick M. Tigue, Children’s Health Care Coordinator, New England Alliance for Children’s Health