Beginning this month, roughly 2,000 children in the area will be enrolled in South Carolina's Medicaid program through a new initiative called “Express Lane.”

According to a press release sent out by the S.C. Department of Health Human Services, “Approximately 1,961 Aiken County children, 286 Edgefield County children and 83 McCormick County children who are currently eligible for South Carolina's Medicaid program but are not signed up will be enrolled and immediately able to receive services through a coordinated care health plan.”

As a part of a state-wide initiative to enroll 65,000 eligible children, families who receive benefits from the Department of Social Services' food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs but whose children are not also enrolled in Medicaid, will receive letters informing them of their children's eligibility beginning this week.

“It is hard to justify large expansions of Medicaid under Obamacare when we haven't even been meeting our current commitments to our most vulnerable children,” SCDHHS Director Anthony Keck said in the release. “By connecting these children to a medical home, we will help to ensure they get the preventive care they need to stay healthy and excel in school.”

Letters are set to arrive in the three counties, including Aiken, this week and roll out statewide through the rest of the month. Those who prefer not to receive benefits through Medicaid can call a toll-free number and cancel their automatic enrollment.

Children enrolled in a Medicaid health plan through the SCDHHS Healthy Connections program receive coverage for doctor visits, vaccinations and dental care, among other benefits. Enrollees join a coordinated care health plan in their counties of residence and are paired with a primary care physician and a network of specialty care providers.

Earlier this year, under a similar program, SCDHHS began automatically re-certifying Medicaid eligibility for currently enrolled children whose families continued to participate in those DSS programs.