S.C. receives $17M federal bonus for enrolling children in health insurance

The federal government awarded South Carolina a $17.5 million bonus for its efforts to enroll children in health insurance.

The Palmetto State is one of 23 states that received part of a combined $307 million in federal bonuses, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Monday.

"This award is recognition that South Carolina is serious about meeting our core commitments while we also work towards more effective and less costly solutions to our state's poor health than the Affordable Care Act provides," said S.C. Medicaid Director Tony Keck.

States qualified for the extra money if enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program exceeded the baseline enrollment level for the fiscal year. Each qualifying state was required to implement at least five of eight specific programs to streamline enrollment for children in health insurance.

One of these is called Express Lane Eligibility, which allows the South Carolina Medicaid agency to cull information from the Department of Social Services to determine if children qualify for a health plan. Children whose families are determined eligible for food stamps or welfare payments can now be automatically enrolled in Medicaid.

The Children's Health Insurance Program, commonly called CHIP, provides health insurance for some children whose lower-income parents make too much to qualify them for Medicaid.

As of September, nearly 600,000 children in this state were enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP, according to an agency spokeswoman.

South Carolina was named one of 15 states that exceeded its enrollment goal into these programs by more than 10 percent, a federal press release about the bonuses reported.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.

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