The federal government is forwarding a nearly $7 million bonus to Iowa for the state’s effort to get more kids covered by health insurance.
The Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa or HAWK-I program provides free or reduced-price insurance to about 30,000 children; another 240,000 Iowa kids are covered by Medicaid, which is government-paid health care coverage for the poor and disabled. Roger Munns of the Iowa Department of Human Services says Iowa and 14 other states are getting the bonuses for enrolling more low and moderate-income kids for health insurance.
“Iowa’s award — $6.8 million — is significant,” Munns says, “because it will more than cover the projected deficit in this year’s Medicaid program.”
The “high performance bonus” is not only for enrolling more children, but for simplifying the process for parents to apply for health care coverage for their kids. “For instance, there is only one form for applying for either Medicaid or — in Iowa’s case — the HAWK-I program which is Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa,” Munns says. “Having one form for both makes it easy because a lot of the families that apply for HAWK-I actually don’t qualify. They don’t make enough money and it eliminates the shuffling of paperwork between one program and another.”
A recent survey indicated 95 percent of eligible kids in Iowa are covered by health insurance.
Iowa’s Medicaid budget for the current state fiscal year which ends June 30th has a projected $5 million deficit. Legislators will be forced to plug that hole, and the $6.8 million award from the feds will more than cover that shortfall.
(This story was updated at 4:10 p.m., correcting the reference to the agency where Munns works. It’s the Department of Human Services, not the Department of Public Health as previously reported.)