Supporting Families in Transition: A Guide to Expanding Health Coverage in the Post-Welfare Reform World. Chapter 1: Reaching Families Who Seek TANF Assistance


Families seeking assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program typically first complete an application. All states currently report that they use joint applications for TANF and Medicaid. Therefore, the nature of coordination between the TANF and Medicaid agencies and their procedures has a critical impact on whether or not eligible low-income families obtain Medicaid coverage.

Not every person seeking TANF assistance actually completes the application process. In some states, for example, completion of an application is delayed until a parent conducts a job search. In other cases, an individual may decide not to apply for TANF after all because she secures employment, or for other reasons. Many parents do not realize that, regardless of their eligibility for or receipt of TANF assistance, they, or at least their children, may be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. In such cases, TANF offices can be instrumental in ensuring that eligible families get enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP.

This chapter outlines the statutory and regulatory requirements under TANF and Medicaid that states must follow in establishing the eligibility rules for low-income families, as well as requirements concerning the Medicaid application and enrollment processes. To help state officials and others considering implementation issues, this chapter also identifies administrative steps and programmatic strategies designed to promote the maximum enrollment of families.

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