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News from The Hilltop Institute at UMBC

Findings from Hilltop Study of Using Tax Forms
to Identify Medicaid/CHIP-Eligible Children Released

The State Health Access Reform Evaluation (SHARE) has released an issue brief entitled, Using Information from Income Tax Forms to Target Medicaid and Chip Outreach: Preliminary Results of the Maryland Kids First Act. The brief discusses the preliminary results of Hilltop’s evaluation of the outreach effort of Maryland’s Kids First Act.

Maryland is 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, SHARE 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, M. A., is principal investigator of the study and research team leader.

The brief identifies ten lessons learned from the experience so far, addressing issues such as data-sharing, health literacy, inclusion/exclusion criteria, tracking mechanisms, and the circumstances under which legislation is necessary in order to implement tax-based outreach. The project is funded by SHARE, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation® (RWJF), with direction by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

The issue brief was simultaneously released on September 25, 2009 by Hilltop, SHARE, and RWJF.

The study has gained national attention. A recent Commonwealth Fund States in Action Report, entitled Using Tax Forms to Identify Eligible Kids highlighted Maryland’s efforts to enroll Medicaid eligible but uninsured children. The Fund interviewed Hilltop Executive Director and research team member Charles Milligan, J.D., M.P.H., who stated, "Collaboration between the Medicaid and CHIP programs and the Comptroller presented valuable new opportunities for outreach to potential enrollees, but also involved challenges that the agencies are continuing to address as the new approach evolves."

Milligan and Idala have also been presenting the study’s findings at national conferences around the country, including the National Academy for State Health Policy’s (NASHP’s) Maximizing Enrollment for Kids Conference in Washington, D.C., and the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. To view the latest presentation, click here.

Most recently, Idala gave a presentation on the study findings at an invitational teleconference that brought Finish Line and CHIPRA Implementation grantees together to discuss using tax forms to facilitate enrollment in children’s health coverage. This teleconference was convened by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.

To learn more about the study, contact David Idala.


The Hilltop Institute at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is a nationally recognized research center dedicated to improving the health and social outcomes of vulnerable populations. Hilltop conducts research, analysis, and evaluations on behalf of government agencies, foundations, and other non-profit organizations at the national, state, and local levels.
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