Despite the fact that SCHIP reauthorization has been momentarily derailed, states continue to demonstrate the importance of the program and the need for additional funding to effectively serve the target population. In the meantime, states have to balance increasing enrollment with flat funding levels and therefore are turning towards greater information technology (IT) utilization.
A recent National Academy for State Health Policy NASHP webcast in association with Kasier Family Foundation reviewed the current status, successes and challenges of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP reauthorization discussions were a central theme with an emphasis on timeliness in conjunction with adequate funding. The webcast highlighted the need for stronger data collection, technical assistance and IT systems. Program Directors from Montana, Illinois and Alabama provided further insights into how their respective states tailor the program to address low-income children's needs.
As reported by NASHP, the top successes and challenges for states are one-in-the-same, outreach, enrollment and maintaining enrollment. According to research presented, approximately two-thirds of children in the United States are eligible for SCHIP or Medicaid, but only a low percentage of that population is actually enrolled. The major barriers presented were knowledge gaps, administrative hassles and continuous enrollment. One of the recommendations for addressing these barriers was simplifying the enrollment process either through paper applications, online applications or a hybrid of the two. Survey results indicated that several states are exploring electronic verification and vital information systems to streamline and simplify the process. The use of the Medicaid Transformation Grants funding to improve services was cited as "interesting" and the innovative approaches could be looked at as examples for potential SCHIP improvements. Finally, the use of technology was touted as a potential for cost savings and improved enrollment.