How Cities Can Reduce the Number of Uninsured Children

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After working with 12 cities for the last six months as they developed outreach and enrollment campaigns to increase enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP, we are excited to announce that we have selected 8 cities to continue on to the third and final implementation phase of our Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families initiative.

With support from the Atlantic Philanthropies, NLC will award each city up to $260,000 as well as provide technical assistance over the next 18 months as they implement outreach and enrollment campaigns developed during the six-month planning phase of this initiative.

While each community is unique, each is dealing with a common challenge: children and families who are eligible for, but not enrolled in, Medicaid and CHIP. Recognizing the important role that city leaders have and the valuable steps they can take to increase enrollment in these programs, selected cities have crafted comprehensive campaigns involving key city leaders in partnerships with community organizations, schools and health care providers.

The campaigns aim to reach populations that have been the most difficult to enroll and increase their enrollment in and utilization of Medicaid and CHIP. With all of the attention from the Affordable Care Act on marketplace enrollment and deadlines, it is important to remember that there is no deadline for enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP; enrollment is available 365 days a year!

As city teams that were part of the planning phase assessed the barriers in their communities for families to access the health coverage they need and deserve, they learned that with greater knowledge about community needs and the existing gaps in service, they can custom design outreach and enrollment campaigns that have a significant impact on increasing health care access for children and families in their communities.

Dallas, Texas: Healthy Children in a Healthy Environment

Coordinated by the city’s Housing and Community Services Department, Dallas’ campaign focuses on training staff to become enrollment assistors and coordinating and consolidating existing enrollment efforts in order to increase effectiveness.

Garden City, Michigan: Healthy Kids-Healthy Families

The city’s Community Resource Department will coordinate the Healthy Kids-Healthy Families campaign to increase awareness and understanding of Healthy Michigan – the state’s Medicaid and CHIP program – and to provide assistance with enrollment, utilization, and re-enrollment.  The department will become the entity for enrollment and re-enrollment assistance in the community. City staff and community partners will provide increased enrollment assistance throughout the community and will utilize a social medial campaign and trusted community members to spread their message about the importance of coverage.

Hattiesburg, Mississippi: E3: Educate, Enroll, Empower Health Initiative

Implemented through the mayor’s office who will work in partnership with community partners and agencies to help promote a healthy lifestyle, the E3 (Educate, Enroll, Empower) Health Initiative focuses on three main strategies to reduce the number of uninsured families and to increase retention rates. Plans include: educating families about opportunities for obtaining and retaining coverage; enrolling and recertifying families and children into Medicaid or CHIP; and empowering families to re-enroll on their own.

Jacksonville, Florida: Cover Jacksonville

The city’s first ever mayor-appointed Health Commissioner working in partnership with the Jacksonville Children’s Commission and community partners will lead the Cover Jacksonville campaign. The campaign will focus on: building the community’s capacity by providing training and increasing enrollment assistance; raising awareness about public insurance options and promoting a culture of health; establishing a single point of access for enrollment information and assistance; and identifying and assisting uninsured children through a partnership with Duval County Public Schools.

New Bedford, Massachusetts: Health Access Kids New Bedford

The New Bedford Health Department will lead the Health Access Kids New Bedford campaign in partnership with New Bedford Public Schools (NBPS) and community partners. In addition to reducing the number of eligible but unenrolled children and families, the campaign aims to establish a sustained culture of health quality, literacy, and advocacy in the city. Identifying as the target population NBPS students and their families with low levels of health literacy, the campaign will implement an outreach and marketing campaign to build awareness, and utilizes Community Health Workers to provide individual enrollment assistors and serve as Health Access Specialist navigators.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Healthy Together

The Healthy Together enrollment campaign complements Mayor Peduto’s Live Well Pittsburgh initiative which aims to achieve 100% coverage for Pittsburgh’s youth. The campaign will utilize three main strategies: embedding enrollment efforts into the core strategy of the Mayor’s administration; implementing outreach strategies led by the Mayor’s office and in partnership with community organizations; and establishing a referral system between schools and enrollment assistance agencies. Recognizing the role of mayors and city leaders in spreading the message of coverage and health access, Healthy Together incorporates a clear role for city leaders and trusted community members in the planned outreach and enrollment events.

Providence, Rhode Island: Healthy Providence

Having identified the existing barriers to enrollment for their city’s residents, the Healthy Providence campaign – led by the mayor’s Healthy Communities Office – focuses on new outreach strategies to reach their eligible but unenrolled population, with plans to serve as an enrollment facilitator for those identified. The campaign strategies include: institutionalizing health coverage assessment and enrollment with school-based outreach; partnering with youth-based organizations to create peer-led outreach efforts; fortifying effective community-based outreach and enrollment efforts with trusted community members and organizations; and improving the enrollment infrastructure through statewide policy initiative support.

Savannah, Georgia: The Mayor’s Campaign for Healthy Children and Families

Emanating from the mayor’s office and including partnerships with Step Up Savannah, the city’s poverty reduction initiative, and other community partners, The Mayor’s Campaign for Healthy Children and Families seeks to increase enrollment in Georgia’s public health insurance programs – Right from the Start Medicaid (RSM) or PeachCare for Kids (PCK) – by enhancing and expanding enrollment assistance services and outreach activities. The plan includes utilizing the city’s 3-1-1 system as a central clearinghouse to link individuals with enrollment assistance, undertaking a broad social media marketing campaign to increase awareness of enrollment and renewals, and also a focus on policy advocacy and systems change.

We’re excited to share a sample of what the cities have in store, and we’ll be sharing more from each city in the coming days and weeks. We hope you’ll follow our progress as we move forward in this implementation phase and find strategies and ideas that you can mirror in your own cities!

Dawn Schluckebeir_headshot

About the Author: Dawn Schluckebier is an Associate for Family Economic Success in NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.