Wisconsin is one of 23 states being rewarded by the federal government for providing healthcare to low income kids. The state is receiving what could amount to a $32 million dollar bonus.
Advocacy groups are calling on the governor to use the bonus money to shore up BadgerCare and Medicaid. The state may release a report on its intentions for the money by the end of the year.
The Children's Health Insurance Program is known as "CHIP" for short. It's an extension of Medicaid where kids whose families have incomes above the poverty line, but still have trouble affording medical care.
Wisconsin has enrolled 87 percent of eligible children, one percent above the national average.
It also has met the minimum of five out of eight standards to receive the performance bonus award. That's according to Cindy Mann who directs the program at the federal level. She says Wisconsin is among the states that have streamlined the application and renewal processes, "Meaning that they're looking at the data available to see how many children they can renew automatically based on data available to the state rather than going to the family and asking for more paperwork when in fact that information is already available."
Besides simplifying the system, Mann says states also had to prove the enrolled kids are being cared for. In Wisconsin, she says 461,000 children are enrolled, "So it's not enough to have simplified the program the way in which a state must going about doing this is to actually show results. And these performance bonuses are about results."
Mann doesn't expect too many changes to CHIP with the pending implementation of the Affordable Care Act, if anything she says more children may become eligible.