Outreach to uninsured kids earns Jody Ray national recognition

USF’s Jodi Ray’s tireless efforts to reduce the number of uninsured children have earned her recognition from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), earning the honor Excellence in Children’s Health Outreach and Enrollment (ECHOE).

Ray is project director of Florida Covering Kids and Families, part of the Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies, which is operated through the USF College of Public Health. Ray was recognized by CMS – along with nine other organizations and individuals – for her outstanding efforts to identify and enroll eligible children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and was named recipient of ECHOE (Excellence in Children’s Health Outreach and Enrollment).

“The efforts of Jodi Ray and the other honorees have helped eligible children get the high quality coverage and care that Medicaid and CHIP provide,” said CMS Administrator, Donald Berwick, MD. “These honorees have not only helped to improve participation in health coverage, but also have enriched our understanding of the best ways to help consumers obtain and keep health coverage.”

As part of her successful outreach for children’s health, Ray led a statewide effort to engage, train and support 16 local, all volunteer community coalitions covering 30 Florida counties that focus on reducing the number of uninsured children.  Activities to get eligible children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP — the Florida KidCare Program — range from school-based activities, working with the children’s hospitals, providing one-on-one application assistance to families, partnering with both small and large businesses and enlisting municipal governments in outreach activities. In addition, Ray has forged partnerships with veteran’s social services organizations. Under a Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) Cycle I grant, such efforts helped obtain and renew coverage for more than 11,000 eligible Florida children.

Under CHIPRA, CMS has awarded $90 million in outreach grants since 2009.  These grants are aimed at ensuring further improvements in reaching children who are eligible but unenrolled. An additional $40 million in funding will be made available under the Affordable Care Act for improving outreach and enrollment efforts. ECHOE honorees include past and current CHIPRA outreach and enrollment grantees, as well as groups working in partnership with grantees.  Their activities include using technology in innovative ways to enroll eligible children, enlisting schools in effective outreach, sponsoring a successful enrollment telethon and designing the systems needed to ensure that eligible children retain their health coverage for as long as they qualify.

“The efforts of State, Tribal and community partners, like our honorees, have helped to achieve significant progress toward reducing the number of children who are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP,” said Cindy Mann, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. “Because of their work, participation rates have improved nationally and in every region of the country, and we are better prepared to meet future enrollment challenges.”