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Public Health Rep. 2007 Jul-Aug;122(4):452-60.

Enrolling in Medicaid through the National School Lunch Program: outcome of a pilot project in California schools.

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University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Center for Community Health Studies, 1000 Fremont Ave., Unit #80, Building A7, Room 7406, Alhambra, CA 91803, USA.


California has several health insurance programs for children. However, the system for enrolling into these programs is complex and difficult to manage for many families. Express Lane Eligibility is designed to streamline the Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California) enrollment process by linking it to the National School Lunch Program. If a child is eligible for free lunch and the parents consent, the program provides two months of presumptive eligibility for Medi-Cal and a simplified application process for continuation in Medi-Cal. For those who are ineligible, it provides a referral to other programs. An evaluation of Express Lane shows that while many children were presumptively enrolled, nearly half of the applicants were already enrolled in Medi-Cal. Many Express Enrolled children failed to complete the full Medi-Cal enrollment process. Few were referred to the State Children's Health Insurance Program or county programs. Express Lane is less useful as a broad screening strategy, but can be one of many tools that communities use to enroll children in health insurance.

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