Supporting Families in Transition: A Guide to Expanding Health Coverage in the Post-Welfare Reform World. Chapter 3: Reaching Families Outside the TANF System

07/08/2004

This chapter deals with ways to ensure coverage for low-income families who do not come in contact with the TANF system. As states succeed in helping families move to self-sufficiency, more families will remain outside the welfare system. Thus, it is critical that new strategies for reaching families outside the TANF system be developed and implemented.

The longstanding linkage between cash assistance and Medicaid was often seen as an inequitable and counter-productive feature of the old system. When families learn that they can receive Medicaid coverage without having to receive welfare, they may be less likely to turn to welfare in the first place or to return to the welfare system in the event that they have significant health care needs. This chapter highlights the historic opportunity that the delinkage of Medicaid from welfare presents to promote Medicaid and CHIP coverage as a freestanding support for low-income families with children, and outlines approaches states can take toward this goal.

This chapter also emphasizes the importance of information and outreach efforts, and of simplifying the application and enrollment processes, as means of identifying and enrolling low-income families and children in Medicaid and CHIP.

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