Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Update: States Have Expanded Eligibility and Increased Access to Health Care for Pregnant Women and Children

In January 2001, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) announced that more than 3.3 million previously uninsured children now have health insurance through state SCHIP programs. States are now beginning to explore ways in which they can use new guidance from HCFA to expand eligibility even further to cover greater numbers of uninsured parents and families of SCHIP eligible children.



During the last year, states have taken advantage of the flexibility under the State Childrenís Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to expand eligibility for previously uninsured low-income children. As states enter their second and third years of operation of SCHIP, more than 3.3 million children now have health insurance. Through SCHIP, the average increase in eligibility levels for children in all age groups has increased by 61 percentage points. In some age groups, the average eligibility increased as much as 100 percentage points.

States are using new tools to increase access to health care for pregnant women and children. States traditionally have used presumptive and continuous eligibility as a means to help pregnant women receive early and continuous prenatal care under Medicaid. States are using these same tools for children in Medicaid and SCHIP. States, recognizing the value of early and routine prenatal care, are finding creative ways to increase the number of women who receive prenatal care early in their first trimester. States are also finding ways to provide prenatal care to low-income pregnant women, using a variety of state and federal funding sources.

Medicaid continues to pay for more than 1 million births across all states. Most states reported a reduction in Medicaid births from 1997 to 1998, and the nationwide average of Medicaid births, as a percentage of total births, decreased by one percentage point. Tables describing all these subjects are included in this MCH Update.