Published: Dec 28, 2011 9:57 PM EST

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey's efforts to ensure more children have health coverage have earned it a nearly $17 million performance bonus from the U.S. Health Department.
    
The federal government said Wednesday this is the third year New Jersey has earned the payment. Only 22 other states qualified.
    
To receive the payments, states must surpass a Medicaid enrollment target and improve access to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP.
    
New Jersey was cited for a number of improvements. The state allows the same forms to be used to apply for various programs and does not require applicants to appear in person. The state also uses information from school lunch applications to help determine health coverage eligibility.
    
Bonuses help offset state costs of enrolling more lower-income children in Medicaid.

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