Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Alan Levine today announced that Louisiana’s Medicaid program received a $1.5 million performance bonus from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the program’s significant progress in enrolling children and improving access to health coverage for children through Medicaid and LaCHIP, or the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Louisiana was one of nine states nationwide to qualify for the performance bonus, for which states had to show significant increases in the number of children covered over the past year and adopt at least five of eight specific program features designed to streamline and simplify the eligibility and enrollment process.

This announcement comes on the heels of Louisiana Medicaid being named a national best practice last month by the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services for its low Medicaid eligibility error rate associated with efforts to simplify and streamline the state’s Medicaid eligibility processes. With the budget challenges facing both Louisiana and states across the nation in the upcoming year, Louisiana Medicaid continues to become more efficient and effective in the use of taxpayer dollars for program administration.

"Our Medicaid staff deserves tremendous recognition for the hard work they put into their jobs daily. This great news, on top of the other honors they’ve received this year and last, shows we are making a huge difference. The steps we are taking to increase health coverage for our kids while simplifying and streamlining Medicaid’s administrative processes are making an impact on the lives of Louisiana’s families," said Secretary Levine. "We already have one of the highest rates of insured children in the nation, at more than 95 percent, and we will continue working to give every child in the state access to coverage."

Louisiana showed significant progress in expanding coverage to children over the past year, with more than 30,000 children gaining access to coverage. The state also met five of the program features required to receive the bonus. The five program features in place in Louisiana include ensuring 12 months of continuous eligibility once a child is enrolled and using data from other systems, such as the Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Services’ SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) program and Louisiana Workforce Commission databases, to determine renewal eligibility. These efforts have improved the stability of coverage for children and reduced the number of eligible children dropped from rolls for administrative reasons.

The bonus money can be used in a variety of ways, including as part of the state’s required matching payments for the Medicaid program.

The funding for performance bonuses was authorized in the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, signed into law earlier this year.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.