The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the State Health Access Program (SHAP) grant to only 13 states, including North Carolina. The award will cover more than 1,500 low income, working families in North Carolina.
“One of the biggest steps toward universal coverage for children involves extending coverage to their parents,” Perdue said. “With this grant award, North Carolina can focus on making an affordable health care option for our uninsured, working parents and kids.”
North Carolina has received $1,264,097 for year one to develop a low-cost, limited benefit plan, which will increase to $4 million in years two through five. The pilot program will be administered by the N.C. Office of Rural Health and Community Care and the N.C. Division of Medical Assistance. The total $17 million federal grant comprises almost the entirety of the project’s funding.
To qualify, families must be uninsured and at or below 125% of the federal poverty level. Parents must demonstrate that their children are enrolled in or have applied for Medicaid or the state’s CHIP, or otherwise have private insurance coverage. Because of this requirement, the program should increase the number of children with health insurance. Enrollees also will be expected to pay a modest premium and small copayments.
“As an unstable economic climate has caused increasing numbers of families to face limited access to vital services to maintain good health and well being, we are pleased to be a part of this program that’s designed to close the gap,” said Secretary Lanier Cansler, Department of Health and Human Services.
The state’s initiative was based in part on studies examining ways to expand access to health care for the uninsured, led by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, a partner organization in the initiative. According to the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, almost half of the uninsured are low income adults. Research also has shown that children who are eligible for public coverage are more likely to be enrolled if their parents are covered.
This new initiative will be built on North Carolina’s nationally recognized Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC), which expands health care access through a network of primary care providers. CCNC offers Medicaid recipients a medical home and community-based care management support and emphasizes prevention, primary care and disease management. CCNC has been successful in linking more than 947,000 Medicaid recipients to a medical home, improving health outcomes and reducing health care costs.
The initiative also outlines plans to work with private insurers in North Carolina to develop a limited benefit plan, similar to that of CCNC, which can be offered to small businesses by year four of the grant.