Packer SuperBlogger Invokes Lombardi to Show Wisconsin is Leading the Charge for Children’s Health – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

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(In honor of the Super Bowl, Say Ahhh! is hosting a Super Blog-Off to determine whether the Steeler Nation or Packer Backers are doing a better job of Connecting Kids to Coverage.  Please read both blogs and vote for your favorite by submitting a comment.  Comments must be submitted by kick-off Sunday night.  See previous blog for details on the competition.)

By Michael Jacob, Project Coordinator, Covering Kids and Families, Wisconsin

“People who work together will win, whether it be against
complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society

                                                             – Vince Lombardi

As the Green Bay Packers gear up to extend their
championship legacy, so do the people of Wisconsin when it comes to covering
the uninsured, especially in the home of the frozen tundra, Green Bay.

Like all great teams, the effort to help the uninsured
in Green Bay comes from a wide
complement of great talents working together for a singular goal and rallying
around the exceptional performance of a few key players. The N.E.W. Community
is one such key
player.  For 35 years, the N.E.W.
Community Clinic has been providing quality care to the hard-working,
low-income and uninsured people of greater Green Bay. Among other things, the

* Reduces unnecessary emergency room use:  62% of their clients would have gone to
the ER if the clinic didn’t exist.

* Saves money: 
the average cost of a visit at the clinic is $41.81 including doctor
visit, lab tests, interpreter (if needed) and sample medications.

* Ensures a healthy community by providing care to those
who need it most.

With several sites, the clinic ensures children and
families who are eligible for BadgerCare+ are able to navigate the enrollment
process. For people who have been part of the community for some time, this
means close coordination with the Brown County Economic Support agency to help
clients know where their application stands in the enrollment process and help
them do whatever is needed to become 
successfully enrolled in BadgerCare.  For folks new to the area, help  comes in the form of ensuring that cases are closed out in
the states they came from and these newest residents have a good understanding
of – and help with – Wisconsin’s award-winning online and in-person enrollment

As a clinic, N.E.W. 
provides  the immediate care
children and families need right away while positioning them for quality care
for the long term. Preventive care – immunizations, well-child checks, etc. –
is coupled with education about health care and health insurance, including

Efforts like those at the N.E.W. Community Clinic are
emblematic of partnerships occurring across Wisconsin. Covering Kids & Families
), coordinates school and community-based outreach and
enrollment assistance in several areas, working from a dynamic Toolbox of
that can be adapted to virtually any
community. Just as there are Packer backers throughout the country,
organizations in several states have taken notice of the lessons CKF has
learned and the tools it has developed, and are adopting them in their own

Of course the best offense starts with a great defense.

A new crew
of officials have taken to the field in Wisconsin, led by Republican Governor
Scott Walker and Dennis Smith at the helm of our Department of Health
Services.  Secretary Smith’s time
at CMS and his writings for the Heritage Foundation give us some sense of his
personal views of America’s public health insurance programs, coupled with
Governor Walker’s call for Medicaid reform,  both of which give Wisconsin’s advocates for the uninsured
certainty that change is coming. Yet there has been no indication to date of
what the new rules will be. Our advocates have come together via the Save
BadgerCare Coalition
, a diverse group of more
than two dozen organizations who highlight  how BadgerCare works for Wisconsin:

* BadgerCare works for all Wisconsinites, providing
important health care coverage to working men and women–and their children–from
all 72 Wisconsin counties.

* BadgerCare works for businesses, ensuring healthy,
productive workers.

* BadgerCare works for Wisconsin’s taxpayers, bringing
hundreds of millions of federal dollars into the state’s economy.

* BadgerCare works for communities. When folks without
insurance get sick they end up in emergency rooms or use expensive inpatient
care. Costs skyrocket and hospitals pass those fees along to everyone.
Employers often pay the most through increased insurance premiums. Ultimately
we all pay a “hidden health tax.”

BadgerCare, founded by Republican Governor Tommy G.
Thompson – the Vince Lombardi of public health insurance – has a stellar
12-year history. We’ve consistently been ahead of the curve in both the design
of our program and in achieving that design with bipartisan support even in the
face of strained state budgets. The result has been a consistent Top-10 ranking  of covered children.

Speaking of rankings, scoreboard, please:

“If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they
keep score?”
Vince Lombardi

Two years after the reauthorization and expansion of the
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a new Commonwealth Fund
state-by-state scorecard
how the health care system is working for children finds Wisconsin and
Pennsylvania, like the Packers and Steelers, fairly evenly matched overall,
with Wisconsin leading the charge for children’s health in many areas and
Pennsylvania leading others.

Wisconsin ranks 6th nationally in insured children and is
third best in covered adults. Pennsylvania ranks 15th and 12th respectively.
Yet Pennsylvania’s coverage ranks much better in terms of being adequate to
meet a child’s needs and both states could improve when it comes to the
percentage of family income needed to cover the costs of employer-sponsored
premiums. Wisconsin is 8th overall when it comes to our residents having the
potential to lead healthy lives, while Pennsylvania barely sits in the top half
of the country.

And before anyone takes a shot at our love of all things
cheese, know that we offset the modest negative effects of being America’s
Dairyland by ranking fourth best in the country for high-school students meeting recommended physical activity levels. Pennsylvania? Well, not so much.

We’re all looking forward to a great game on Sunday and
to great years ahead both on the gridiron and in ensuring children and families
have the health care coverage they need and deserve!

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