Program Churning and Transfers Between Medicaid and CHIP

Program Churning and Transfers Between Medicaid and CHIP

Published: May 01, 2015
Publisher: Academic Pediatrics, Children's Health Insurance Program Supplement, edited by Mary Harrington, Stacey McMorrow, and Kimberly Smith, vol. 15, no. 3s

Sean M. Orzol

Lauren Hula

Mary Harrington


In the 10 states that are the focus of the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 evaluation, we analyze in detail the states' recent progress in retaining children in public coverage and public coverage churning.


We used administrative data spanning a five-and-a-half-year period collected from 10 study states—Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and Virginia—to analyze the extent to which children return to the same program a short time after disenrollment and the extent to which transfers between Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) lead to public coverage gaps.


Our analysis yielded 3 key findings. First, many children moved between Medicaid and CHIP; while most transitioned seamlessly, coverage gaps occurred for as many as 40%, depending on the type of transition. Second, churning continued to be a concern for public coverage programs, with approximately 21% of Medicaid disenrollees and 10% of separate CHIP disenrollees returning to the same program within 7 months. Third, we found sizable differences in rates of program churning and nonseamless program transfers across the 10 study states.


Notable variation existed across programs and states, which persisted over the period in public program churning. These results suggest the need for continued efforts to simplify renewal processes, particularly in state Medicaid programs, along with the adoption of processes that improve coordination across programs and policies that simplify these transfers.

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