Linking Children with Health Insurance

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to distribute grants to get kids connected with health coverage

Twenty states will begin projects designed to increase access to insurance coverage for children as part of a $47 million Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant program.

Grants in the first round of the Covering Kids Initiative range from about $600,000 to $1 million. Eligible activities include streamlining application and eligibility verification processes, formalizing referral systems, and creating statewide education efforts.

"Experience has shown that simply creating coverage programs for children is not enough," foundation program officer Judith Y. Whang said in a statement announcing the grants.

In an effort to encourage coordination among interested organizations, the foundation accepted only one application per state, said project deputy director Vicki Grant, PhD. She said the Covering Kids Initiative will provide up to 51 three-year grants ranging in size from $500,000 to $1.5 million. Of the $47 million available, $42 million is for programs and $5 million is for technical assistance.

Ms. Grant said the project has three goals:

• to find ways to identify and enroll currently uninsured children into available coverage;

• to simplify the application process of existing programs;

• to coordinate existing sources of coverage.

The foundation originally had allocated $13 million with an application deadline of May 1, 1998. The applications "were of such good quality, the board decided to expand the program," Ms. Grant said. In addition, the application deadline was extended to Jan. 15, 1999, to give North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming an opportunity to apply.

Contact the Covering Kids office at (803) 779-2607.