New York is Taking GIANT Steps to Cover Kids – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog


By the Community Service Society of New York, Children’s Defense Fund – New YorkSchuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy and Health Care for All New York

As the New York Giants head to the Super Bowl this year,
another giant comes to mind, the title character from Roald Dahl’s famous book,
The Big Friendly Giant (BFG). Just as the BFG spreads good dreams to the
children of the land, New York’s BFG spreads health insurance to the children
in the state.

New York’s BFG comes in many forms and is incredibly
benevolent. He has made sure all children in the state qualify for public
health insurance, regardless of their immigration status and income. New York’s
CHIP, Child Health Plus, covers children up to 400% of the federal poverty
 and a full premium buy-in option beyond that. To assist families with
enrollment, the Facilitated Enrollment (FE) program in
New York reaches families in their own communities. Community-based facilitated
enrollers across the state represent the cultural and linguistic diversity of
the communities they serve and are available at times and places convenient for
working families. Building upon the FE program, Cycle 2 of the CHIPRA Outreach
and Enrollment grants
 funds the REACH-Out project, with retention specialists working alongside
facilitated enrollers to ensure children do not lose coverage. 

Beyond taking giant steps to connect kids to coverage,
New York is also a behemoth when it comes to ensuring children have access to
quality and affordable healthcare through school-based health centers (SBHC).  There
are currently 217 SBHCs operating in New York State enrolling over 160,000
children.  These SBHCs help provide care to thousands of children who may
have limited access due to geographical, financial or other barriers. 
They make available services such as comprehensive physical health and mental
health assessments, diagnosis and treatment of acute illnesses and chronic
conditions, screenings, management of chronic diseases, health education,
mental health counseling and referral and immunizations.  These services
are offered to any student whose school has a SBHC and play a crucial role in
the health of children who otherwise may not be able to see a
doctor.   New York can and should do more to support SBHCs.

When the BFG in Dahl’s book catches a nightmare, he
destroys it. In New York, children’s advocates work to identify and destroy
barriers to enrollment. In 2010, the State eliminated the face-to-face
interview and asset test for Medicaid. Online renewal for New York City
residents makes it easier for families to renew coverage, and the Statewide
Enrollment Center
started rolling out in some New York counties in June 2011–is intended to
facilitate renewal through phone and mail-in renewal. In November 2011, in
anticipation of ACA requirements, the State eliminated Medicaid stair-step
eligibility for children, bringing the eligibility level for children 6-18 up
to 133% FPL from 100%FPL. (Children under the age of 1 are eligible at 200%

As might be expected, the BFG is rather large. When he
visits the Queen in Dahl’s tale, they must make a table, chair, and cutlery big
enough to accommodate him. With over 4.3 million children in New York State,
and nearly half–2.1 million–of those enrolled in public health insurance,
special structures must be in place to support such a large enrollment. The
Affordable Care Act has provided the tools to support the building of
structures, such as an online application and updating the state’s eligibility

We know there are many more big friendly giants across
the country who, like New York’s BFG, are working hard to spread insurance to
the children of the land. (We hope there are no children-eating giants out
there!) Just as we’re rooting for the BFG to make sure every child has access to
quality affordable healthcare, we’ll be cheering on the New York Giants to win
the Super Bowl! 

(To vote for the Giants and kids in the tri-state area, comment on this blog and use the words “Go Giants” in the text.)

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