CMS Awards $300,000 to Increase Health Coverage in Flint, Michigan

Increasing efforts are being made to provide health for Flint residents affected by the water crisis.

The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it will award $300,000 to the Greater Flint Health Coalition to enroll eligible children in health insurance through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The award is in response to the Flint, Michigan water crisis where the town’s water supply was contaminated by lead. Thousands of adults and children were exposed to lead-contaminated water before the issue was discovered.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that children, infants, and fetuses who are exposed to lead can experience learning disabilities, shorter statues, impaired hearing, impaired formation and function of blood cells, and damage to the nervous system.

The new award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will allow the Greater Flint Health Coalition (GFHC) to coordinate with Medicaid and CHIP to address coverage needs of children who have been exposed to contaminated water, according to a press release.

Enrollment in Medicaid in this town includes access to additional resources for children who may have greater healthcare needs.

“The award to the Greater Flint Health Coalition will help connect children and pregnant women served by the Flint water supply to critical health and developmental services,” said Vikki Wachino, CMS deputy administrator and director, Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. “Access to these services will promote the health and well-being of children in Flint.”

The award will be used to educate families about the availability of Medicaid and CHIP benefits for children exposed to contaminated water. Schools, safety net providers, and government organizations will also provide families with education about low-cost Medicaid and CHIP coverage.

Additional efforts will be made to identify eligible children, and assist their families with the application and renewal process, according to the CMS.

This is the latest initiative for Flint by the CMS. In March, they extended Medicaid coverage to children as old as 21, and pregnant women with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level who were affected by the water crisis.

“Greater Flint Health Coalition is uniquely positioned to help support families in gaining access to Medicaid and other supports,” said Nicole Lurie, MD, the lead federal official overseeing the federal government’s response to the Flint water crisis. “GFHC’s long-term presence in the Flint community has made them a trusted community resource uniquely positioned to support children and families through this award.”