10 Things Cities Can Do to Enroll Kids and Families in Medicaid and CHIP

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Health benefits
In my last blog post, I examined the reasons why cities and local elected officials are getting involved in enrolling children and families in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It’s simple—connecting families to public health insurance programs is good governance. By doing so, cities reduce the burden on hospital emergency rooms, children are healthier and have greater academic achievement, and parents take less time off work to care for sick kids.

So now the question is: what can cities do to effectively reach out to families and connect them with Medicaid and CHIP?

From March 10-12, 2014, representatives from 12 cities working on NLC’s Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families initiative gathered in Washington, D.C. for trainings and peer-learning opportunities on how to develop outreach and enrollment campaigns to connect children and families to Medicaid and CHIP. During the last day of the convening, participants brainstormed ways cities and local elected officials can strengthen outreach efforts and increase enrollment.

Here are 10 great ideas they came up with:

  • Use city proclamations to impart the importance of health insurance and foster a culture of coverage.
  • Encourage Medicaid or CHIP enrollment by offering free access to community events (concerts, shows, fairs, etc.) to city residents who present a Medicaid or CHIP card.
  • Convene community stakeholders to partner in enrolling families in Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Hold town hall meetings and use focus groups to understand community outreach and enrollment needs.
  • Use public spaces and city departments for enrollment and outreach activities.
  • Initiate city-wide competitions amongst city council districts to enroll the greatest number of children and families in Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Publicize outreach and enrollment campaigns by applying stickers and decals to municipal vehicles.
  • Use city websites to disseminate information about Medicaid and CHIP, enrollment options, financial assistance for health insurance, and availability of in-person assistance to complete enrollment.
  • Use local TV and radio stations to conduct enrollment phone-a-thons and spread awareness of city enrollment and outreach campaigns.
  • Use the bully pulpit to inform families that they can enroll in Medicaid or CHIP even past the March 31, 2014 Affordable Care Act open enrollment deadline!

These are just a few ideas on how cities can help enroll children and families in Medicaid and CHIP. Have others? Email me at teng@nlc.org with your thoughts and follow us on Twitter at @NLC_Health!