Washington’s children’s health insurance program, Apple Health for Kids, was awarded a $17.6 million performance bonus from the federal government at the end of December for its outstanding efforts to enroll children in health insurance and help them retain coverage. Washington is one of 15 states to be awarded a bonus, and this is the second year in a row it has received the recognition.
The federal Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization law – the second bill signed into law by President Barack Obama – created performance bonuses to help states meet the cost of enrolling low-income children. The bonus structure set aggressive targets for enrollment and a high bar for policies to promote enrollment, efficiency and retention.
The state’s Apple Health for Kids now covers 718,000 children. The federal bonus is flexible money, which means there are no requirements that the funds be funneled back to the program. Staff at the Children’s Alliance, an advocacy organization, are urging state policymakers to use the bonus award to sustain Apple Health for Kids for all eligible children in Washington. They are calling upon Gov. Christine Gregoire and state lawmakers to use these funds to avoid the proposed loss of coverage for 27,000 children slated for March 1.
More information about the performance bonus can be accessed through the Children’s Alliance’s fact sheet, which also includes responses from Gov. Gregoire, legislative leaders and health advocates.