SignUpNow Outreach
Communities Connecting Kids with Health Coverage Fall 2010
Welcome to the Fall electronic edition of the SignUpNow Outreach Newsletter. SignUpNow (SUN) is an initiative of the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) that seeks to increase enrollment in Virginia state-sponsored health insurance programs for children and pregnant women. Please share this newsletter with colleagues and encourage them to register to receive SignUpNow Outreach themselves.
In This Issue
New Director of CHIP at CMS
National Coalition to Enroll More Uninsured Children
Paper on Number of Uninsured Children in the US
Get Covered. Get in the Game. Campaign
DMAS Update
Did You Know? CHIP is a Teenager!
New Director of Children's Health Insurance Programs at CMS
We were delighted to learn that our own Linda Nablo, most recently Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Aging, was named the Director of the Children's Health Insurance Program at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Working out of Baltimore, she will oversee a program that provides benefits to 7 million children.
The SignUpNow community will remember Linda as a tireless advocate for children as the Director of the Maternal and Child Health Division at Department for Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) under then-Governor Mark. R. Warner. During her tenure, the FAMIS programs were born and Virginia made many significant refinements to its children's health insurance systems. Linda led DMAS through the development of the FAMIS marketing campaign ("Julia") and launched FAMIS MOMS. She was also the founding Director of SignUpNow and an original member of Virginia's Covering Kids & Families Coalition. Linda worked in state government for the Commonwealth of Virginia for 29 years. 
National Coalition to Enroll More Uninsured Children
On September 3, 2010, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the members of a national coalition to enroll more uninsured children. This coalition was created as part of the Connecting Kids to Coverage Campaign which aims to enroll 5 million children in Medicaid and CHIP in 5 years. The message of the Campaign is simple and clear: even as the nation moves forward with health insurance reform for all Americans, children don't have to wait. Eligible children can be enrolled right now.  The Virginia Health Care Foundation's Project Connect grantees, as they enroll children in FAMIS programs, are contributing to the national Connecting Kids to Coverage goal. The coalition has a wide range of organizational members, including the United Way and the American Academy of Pediatrics, all of whom have agreed to help educate families and enroll children in health insurance.  For  a complete list of coalition members click here. (Source:
Urban Institute Paper on the Number of Uninsured Chidren in the US
Also released on September 3, 2010, was a study by Genevieve Kenney at the Urban Institute entitled, "Five Million Eligible But Uninsured: Who and Where Are the Children Yet to Enroll in Medicaid And The Children's Health Insurance Program." For years, researchers have struggled to produce accurate estimates on the number of uninsured children in each state. The paper, released by Health Affairs, successfully created a new model, using data from The American Community Survey, that enabled researchers to produce meaningful national and state estimates.
Key findings include:
  • According to coverage estimates, an estimated 7.3 million children were uninsured on an average day in 2008, of whom 4.7 million (65 percent) were eligible for Medicaid or CHIP (Virginia's FAMIS programs) but not enrolled;
  • Participation rates varied across states from 55 percent to 95 percent;
  • Ten states had participation rates at or above 90 percent (Virginia's Medicaid/CHIP participation rate is 80.5 percent);
  • Thirty-nine percent of eligible uninsured children (1.8 million) live in just three states-California, Texas, and Florida, and 61 percent (2.9 million) are concentrated in ten states.
Click here to read the paper and learn more about how Virginia's participation rate compares to other states.
Get Covered. Get in the Game. Campaign
This summer, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) piloted Get Covered. Get in the Game in seven states (Colorado, Florida, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin). The project is designed to bring coaches, schools, families and communities together to raise awareness about available health coverage and get eligible children enrolled. Getting covered will protect children both on and off the playing field. CMS has developed materials to provide information to families and to train coaches about CHIP and Medicaid, so they can help promote the programs throughout the entire school community.  Materials can be customized to include logos, local points of contact and state-specific information.  New materials will be added to the campaign's web page as they become available. (Source:
DMAS Update
DMAS implemented enhancements to the FAMIS eApplication on July 15, 2010. Currently 43 percent of new applications for FAMIS received at the Central Processing Unit (CPU) are submitted via the web. Since implementing the enhancements, families have uploaded and successfully submitted nearly 1,400 documents and verifications online. The number of new approved applications has increased by more than 15 percent. Additionally, with the implementation of online renewal, FAMIS has seen a 19 percent reduction in disenrollment compared to the average for the prior seven months.
Based on these initial indicators, the Department is confident that these enhancements will have a positive effect on the enrollment and retention of eligible children. Secretary Hazel praised DMAS for their customer oriented approach to enrolling children in FAMIS. "These types of innovations focus on improving customer service while gaining efficiencies and streamlined processes for the Commonwealth. These new features provide families with more options and flexibility to apply for and renew FAMIS coverage; anywhere any time, on any computer," said Dr. Hazel. (Source: VA Department of Medical Assistance Services)
Did You Know?
CHIP is a teenager!  The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was created in 1997 as Title XXI of the Social Security Act. On February 4, 2009, President Obama signed the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), which renewed and expanded coverage of the Children's Health Insurance Program (now CHIP) from 7 million children to 11 million children. Ironically, as CHIP becomes a teenager, it is this very segment of the eligible, uninsured population that is hardest to serve. Teens are more likely to be uninsured than younger children both nationally and in the Commonwealth of Virginia. According to Maureen Hensley-Quinn with the National Academy of State Health Policy, "Adolescents have unique and distinct health care and service needs. Teens are not simply big children. However, they are also not small adults. Their care is very different. There is less perceived need for health care during adolescence."
But, teens may be affected by sexually transmitted diseases, drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy, violence, peer pressure, and mental health issues. Teens may also engage in risky behaviors, so when accidents occur they are definitely in need of insurance to cover the costs of resulting medical, dental and/or mental health care.
So, how can you make your outreach more effective for this population? 
  • Familiarize yourself with the FAMIS Teens section of the FAMIS Web site ( This is an excellent place to refer teens to learn more about the FAMIS programs.
  • Work with the marketing classes at your local high schools to create a marketing campaign that will appeal to teens.
  • Enlist coaches to help spread your message to teen athletes and their parents.
  • Remember that Virginia's FAMIS programs cover teens up until their 19th birthdays, so 18 year olds and emancipated minors can apply for coverage for themselves.(
If you have colleagues who would benefit from receiving SignUpNow Outreach, please forward this email to them and encourage them to subscribe to our mailing list. We look forward to providing additional information on children's health insurance in the near future.
Polly Raible 
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This newsletter is made possible with support from the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services
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