Monthly Archives: July 2013

What is our medical support road map?

Photo of smartphone showing road map, on top of a paper road mapOn Oct. 1, 2013, enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace will begin under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while coverage will begin on Jan. 1, 2014. Child support agencies have an important role to play in connecting uninsured parents and their children to health care coverage by providing them with information about and referrals to the Health Insurance Marketplace.

But as important as these dates are for consumers, they are not child support program deadlines. Child support program requirements will not change on Oct. 1 and Jan. 1. Instead, we will continue to keep doing what we are doing—what our statute directs us to do, which is to provide for child health care coverage in child support orders. Employers still have the same medical child support responsibilities to respond to the National Medical Support Notice as they had before. Over time, the ACA will likely impact how we carry out our medical child support responsibilities, but not directly and not tomorrow.

At OCSE, we’ve done a number of things to pave the way for the future of medical support:

  1. Early on, even before the ACA was enacted, we issued grants to bring together state child support and state Medicaid teams to begin to identify the issues.
  2. Beginning in 2010, we issued guidance to give state child support agencies flexibility to manage consistently with each state’s health care direction and framework—programmatically—as well as data reporting and audits.
  3. We clarified that state child support agencies may look to both private and public coverage in ordering medical child support.
  4. We clarified allowable activities, including medical support facilitators and liaisons to cover children and to develop effective health care referral policies for both parents.
  5. We’ve worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to secure a medical support hardship exemption that exempts a parent from paying the shared responsibility payment if their child is not covered because the other parent was ordered to provide coverage but did not do so.
  6. We’re actively working with CMS to clarify child support assignment, cooperation, and Medicaid referral policies.
  7. We’re working within the federal government to clarify data sharing legal authorities between state child support and health care agencies, OCSE and state health care agencies, and between OCSE and federal health agencies. Our child support safeguarding rule permits state child support agencies to share certain data with state Medicaid and CHIP agencies.

I hope you’ll look at our new OCSE Child Support Health Care Connections fact sheets with staff in your child support agencies. We’ve prepared these fact sheets to help you find the information you need about the ACA. Please let us know your ideas for sharing the fact sheets.

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New campaign targets children of incarcerated parents

Girl with new Sesame Street character named MurrayOn June 12, just before Father’s Day, the White House hosted a Champions of Change event honoring 12 individuals who have dedicated themselves to supporting children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers. Some of these children and caregivers attended the festivities, and so did some Muppets!

Perhaps the most exciting part of the event was the announcement of a new partnership with Sesame Workshop (a nonprofit, educational organization) to reach young children of incarcerated parents. Sesame Workshop’s newest initiative, Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration, provides free, bilingual (English/Spanish), multimedia tools for families with young children (ages 3 to 8) who have an incarcerated parent. The tools include a guide for parents and caregivers, a children’s storybook, Sesame Street videos, a tip sheet, and the Sesame Street: Incarceration mobile app, all at SesameStreet.org/Incarceration.

Also at the event, the Administration released a fact sheet on its efforts to support children of incarcerated parents. It describes White House efforts to partner across the federal government to identify opportunities to support these children and their caregivers. The partnership produced a toolkit for child welfare and federal corrections professionals to ease coordination among child welfare agencies, federal prisons, and residential reentry centers, so incarcerated parents can stay engaged in their children’s lives or work toward reunification.

The group also produced Children of Incarcerated Parents Myth Busters to support efforts to help children of incarcerated parents, and launched a Web Portal. The portal consolidates information on federal resources, grant opportunities, best and promising practices, and government initiatives that support children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers.

I encourage child support professionals and stakeholders in the child support program to publicize all of these meaningful materials.

The Family Room Blog on the Administration for Children and Families website talks more about the event and the materials.

Why are we involved?

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an estimated 1.7 million children under the age of 18 had a parent in prison as of 2007—an increase of almost 80 percent since 1991. The majority of federal and state prisoners are parents, and about half of incarcerated parents have support orders. Many child support agencies have prison and jail outreach programs to work with incarcerated parents.

OCSE is involved in several projects to assist the incarcerated population, including the Federal Interagency Reentry Council.

Is your agency involved in a project to help engage incarcerated parents with the child support process and with their children? Please submit a comment on this blog.

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