Spotlight on Express Lane Eligibility (ELE): A Tool to Improve Enrollment and Renewal

Published:March 30, 2015DOI:



      We examine a new simplification policy, Express Lane Eligibility (ELE), introduced by the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA), to understand ELE's effects on enrollment, renewal, and administrative costs.


      Beginning in January 2012 and lasting through June 2013, we conducted 2 rounds of phone interviews with 38 state administrators and staff in 8 states that implemented ELE in Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or both; we also conducted case studies in these same states, resulting in 136 in-person interviews. We collected administrative data on enrollments and renewals processed through ELE methods from the 8 states.


      ELE was adopted in different ways; the method of adoption influenced how many children were served and administrative savings. Automatic ELE processes, which enable states to use eligibility findings from partner agencies to automatically enroll or renew children, serve the most children and generate, on average, $1 million annually in administrative savings. Given the size of renewal caseloads and the recurring nature of renewal, using ELE for renewals holds substantial promise for administrative savings and keeping children covered.


      Automatic ELE processes are a best practice for using ELE. However, because Congress has not yet made ELE a permanent policy option, states are discouraged from adopting this more efficient method of eligibility determination and redeterminations. Making ELE permanent would support states that have already adopted the policy; in addition, ELE could support the transition of children to Medicaid or exchanges should CHIP not be funded after September 30, 2015.


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