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News from The Hilltop Institute at UMBC

Hilltop Releases Issue Brief on
Lessons from the Implementation of the Maryland Kids First Act

The Hilltop Institute at UMBC has just released a new Issue Brief entitled Lessons from the Implementation of the Maryland Kids First Act, which highlights key findings from Hilltop’s study that evaluated the Kids First outreach initiative. The overarching goal of the study was to evaluate the implementation of Kids First and how well the state achieved its goal of identifying and enrolling uninsured children who are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in order to glean lessons for not only Maryland, but also other states. This brief describes the factors that facilitated Kids First, as well as the key challenges that Maryland faced as it implemented the initiative.  

The passage of the Kids First Act in 2008 made Maryland one of the first states in the country to use information from state income tax forms to identify and enroll Medicaid and CHIP-eligible children. As a result of this innovative approach, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health Access Reform Evaluation (SHARE) program commissioned the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and its partner, The Hilltop Institute, to evaluate the outreach strategy. Hilltop Director of Medicaid Policy Studies David Idala, MA, is principal investigator of the study and research team leader.

This brief is the third that disseminates findings from Hilltop’s study. The first issue brief, published in 2009 and titled Using Information from Income Tax Forms to Target Medicaid and Chip Outreach: Preliminary Results of the Maryland Kids First Act, identifies ten lessons learned from the experience at that time, and addresses issues such as data sharing, health literacy, inclusion/exclusion criteria, tracking mechanisms, and the circumstances under which legislation was necessary in order to implement tax-based outreach.

The second brief, published in 2011 and titled Overcoming Interagency Data-Sharing Barriers: Lessons from the Maryland Kids First Act, describes interagency data-sharing barriers that researchers and state officials encountered as they implemented and evaluated the Maryland Kids First Act outreach initiative. 

To learn more about the study, contact David Idala, MA.


The Hilltop Institute at UMBC is a non-partisan health research organization—with an expertise in Medicaid and in improving publicly financed health care systems—dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations. Hilltop conducts research, analysis, and evaluations on behalf of government agencies, foundations, and nonprofit organizations at the national, state, and local levels. Hilltop is committed to addressing complex issues through informed, objective, and innovative research and analysis.

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