CK2C Event Inspires Action in States – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

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By Ann Bacharach, Pennsylvania Law Project and National Covering Kids and Families Network

I took a break from my stay-cation this week to get
motivated for the fall. On behalf of the National Covering Kids and Families
Network, I took the early morning train from Philadelphia to Washington on
Friday to attend the re-launch of Secretary Sebilius’ Connecting Kids to
Coverage Challenge

It was inspiring:

  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan pledged to work with HHS
    to reach and enroll eligible children through a variety of school-based
    outreach strategies.
  • A mother courageously recounted her path to Maryland’s
    M-CHIP program.
  • Sixteen national organizations, including National
    Covering Kids and Families Network, pledged to step up to the Secretary’s
  • Pastor Wiggins from Camden reiterated the challenge of
    reaching and enrolling families just trying to survive day to day.

According to the recently released report from the Urban
Institute, there are 129,000 children in Pennsylvania who are eligible for
Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled. That means Pennsylvania is missing about 15%
of those who could be covered.

That data prompted me to remember the number of proven
strategies and tactics that agencies, organizations and even individuals in
Pennsylvania have utilized: stationing enrollment assistors in Philadelphia’s
Health Centers as well as FQHC’s in Greene, Fayette and Washington Counties,
providing application assistance through Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,
offering over-the-phone enrollment through the State’s Helpline 800-986-KIDS, using Pennsylvania’s web-based application, and reaching out through
community-based organizations in unlikely places such as volunteer firehouses.

Why not spread these ideas to other parts of the state?
And share them with others trying to help connect kids with coverage across the country?  And learn from other such as members of the National Covering Kids and Families Network?

And while we’re at it, what about heading to barbershops and hair
salons, laundromats, food banks? Friday night football games? Fishing and
hunting license distributors? Sunday School, Hebrew School and other religious education

And how do we promote retention? The number of very
low-income children estimated to be eligible but not enrolled is disconcerting
at best. This is, most likely, an outcome of losing eligibility at renewal.
While we work to make renewal easier, how can we keep eligible families
enrolled: reminders from their doctor’s office, from their managed care plans or from their pharmacies? Renewal assistors working in health care settings?

And finally, the estimated 129,000 children who are
eligible but not enrolled are not a finite group; children move in and out of
health coverage all the time based on their family’s status. If a parent loses
or changes a job, if a parent divorces or remarries, if a parent gets sick, if
a sibling ages out of the household, a child’s health coverage can be
interrupted or lost completely.

So, we need to keep up the drumbeat on available health care
coverage and how to enroll using the tried and true methods and by exploring new
and creative ways.

Let’s get busy!

And if you have outreach and retention ideas, please
share them with all of us avid readers and bloggers on Say Ahhh! and the National Covering Kids and Families Network.

Editor’s Note: The views expressed by Guest Bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Children and Families.

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