SignUpNow Outreach
Communities Connecting Kids with Health Coverage 
December 2010

Welcome to the December electronic edition of the SignUpNow Outreach Newsletter. SignUpNow (SUN) is an initiative of the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) that is focused on increasing enrollment of eligible uninsured children in Virginia's FAMIS programs. Please share this newsletter with colleagues and encourage them to register to receive SignUpNow Outreach themselves.

In This Issue
FAMIS and the 2011 Legislative Session
DMAS Update
Did You Know?
Upcoming Events
VHCF's New Web Site
FAMIS and the 2011 Legislative Session


The 2011 Regular Session of the Virginia General Assembly will convene on Wednesday, January 12, 2011. At least two items that pertain to the FAMIS programs will be introduced during the session.


The Virginia Poverty Law Center and the Children's Health Insurance Program Advisory Committee (CHIPAC) are supporting expansion of FAMIS and Medicaid coverage to immigrant children and pregnant women who are legally residing in the US. Currently, legal immigrant children who are FAMIS-eligible and pregnant women otherwise eligible for FAMIS MOMS or Medicaid for Pregnant Women are barred from receiving coverage during the first 5 years they are in the U.S.


Federal law gives states the option to cover such legal immigrants during the 5-year bar (and Virginia already does so for FAMIS Plus or Medicaid-eligible legal immigrant children). Extending coverage to FAMIS-eligible children and pregnant women is estimated to cost about $1.2 million in state funding.  This would leverage about $1.5 million in federal funds. Such coverage would also offset some state-only costs for indigent care and preventive care for children. Prenatal care for all pregnant women will likely result in additional savings and, of course, healthier babies.


The Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC) recommended this coverage expansion during the 2010 session, but it was not funded. The JCHC has again supported this proposal as a part of its 2011 legislative platform.


In addition, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Health Care for all Virginians (HAV), and CHIPAC will support legislation to raise the eligibility level for FAMIS. SB266, to raise FAMIS eligibility to 225% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL), was introduced last year. The bill passed the Senate, but it was not funded in the Senate budget. It was carried over by the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, but not considered pre-session. Most recent data (2009) show that approximately 144,000 Virginia children are uninsured; approximately 49,000 of these children live in families with income above the current FAMIS eligibility level of 200% FPL. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have program eligibility that is higher than Virginia's.


The JCHC studied raising the income limit last year and supported an increase to 225% FPL, if funding was available. 

DMAS Update

Virginia continues its work to make it easier for families to apply for and renew FAMIS coverage. Throughout 2010, many enhancements have been implemented by the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS). Significant changes include: the development of a one-page renewal application; the ability to apply and renew on-line (including e-signature and e-submission of verification documents); and the implementation of Administrative Renewal. 


DMAS and the FAMIS CPU implemented Administrative Renewal for children enrolled in FAMIS on October 15th. Administrative Renewal streamlines the renewal process by having parents verify and/or update information on file from the last time their children were enrolled or renewed. Here's what you need to know to help parents accurately complete their renewal forms: 

  • Parents receive a pre-filled renewal form. 
  • On the front of the form is information on all household members and income. Parents should always review the information on the front for accuracy and note any changes. 
  • In the income section (Section C), if the employer remains the same and the monthly income amounts remain the same, the parent should sign in the space provided, attesting that there have been no changes.
  • If the employer is the same but the income amount has changed, they should note the change in the space provided and sign, attesting to the changes noted.
  • If they do this, their children's FAMIS coverage may be renewed without the need to provide hard-copy documentation.
  • If they do not sign the income section, the CPU will attempt to electronically verify income, or the applicant/parent will be requested to provide income verification.
  • The signature line on the back of the form only needs to be completed if parents are requesting coverage for a new child or pregnant woman listed in Section G who is not currently enrolled.
  • If parents fail to return the form (via mail, fax, or online with the login and pin provided on the form), their coverage will be cancelled.

Cases are which have been renewed administratively  are sampled for internal audit periodically and income verification is requested (unless income can be electronically verified) at the time of the audit for quality assurance purposes. 

Did You Know?


As of December 1, 2010, there were 569,118 children enrolled in one of Virginia's FAMIS programs:


58,259 children enrolled in FAMIS (including 370 children enrolled in FAMIS Select)

48,024 children enrolled in FAMIS Plus Expansion

462,835 children enrolled in FAMIS Plus


There were also 16,284 pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid for Pregnant Women and FAMIS MOMs and 6,149 women and men enrolled in Plan First, Virginia's Family Planning Program.

Upcoming Events

Two SignUpNow Workshops Scheduled: 

Suffolk - January 26, 2011 & Harrisonburg - February 2, 2011

These free workshops are for staff or volunteers of community organizations who are interested in identifying and helping families apply for the free or low-cost health insurance available to children and pregnant women through Virginia's FAMIS insurance programs. The training includes in-depth information on eligibility, enrollment, benefits and policy changes. Attendees will leave the workshop with a comprehensive SignUpNow Tool Kit, which contains critical reference and contact information. For more information and to register, click here. These workshops are made possible with funding from the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services.


Children's Dental Health Month - February 2011

Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Look for a special edition of the SignUpNow Outreach newsletter in January that will focus on oral health and will include terrific resources for planning outreach activities during National Children's Dental Health Month.

Check out VHCF's New Web Site!


Thanks to your survey responses, and the generosity of VHCF's Board of Trustees and Advisors, VHCF now has a new, more user-friendly web site! Now, we've made it easier than ever to find what you need, quickly - whether you are looking for help with VHCF grants and programs, searching for health care data, or the latest information on health care reform. Click here to see our new look, and find information on:

  • Who we help, and how
  • Resources for providers
  • Where the uninsured can find care
  • And more!

The Child Health Section of the VHCF web site now includes all of the information formally housed on the web site. Archived editions of the Outreach newsletter, the SignUpNow Tool Kit, the calendar of workshops, etc. can now be found at: In addition, families looking for assistance in applying for the FAMIS Programs can find information and access a list of Project Connect grantees that are assisting families with the application process.

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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