Cities Can Improve Public Health at the Local Level

City-led outreach and enrollment campaigns can help to connect eligible but uninsured children and families to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – and an NLC initiative can support those campaigns.

NLC's YEF Institute has seen committed city leaders across a wide range of agencies use their unique positions in city government to improve the health of children and families in their communities by launching or supporting health insurance outreach and enrollment campaigns. (Getty Images)

NLC’s YEF Institute has seen committed city leaders across a wide range of agencies use their unique positions in city government to improve the health of children and families in their communities by launching or supporting health insurance outreach and enrollment campaigns. (Getty Images)

Monday marked the first day of National Public Health Week – a perfect opportunity to highlight the role of local public health agencies that are a part of the Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families (CEHACF) initiative created by the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF). This initiative supports eight city-led outreach and enrollment campaigns that help to connect eligible but uninsured children and families to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Promoting health insurance and providing enrollment assistance is not a traditional function of city and county public health departments. However, uninsured children and families lack access to preventive care and health screenings, increasing the likelihood of delayed treatments and illnesses that can become more serious, and costly, over time.

Through the CEHACF project, the eight cities, in partnership with key community groups, developed innovative outreach and enrollment strategies that connected over 16,000 children and families to health insurance between August 2014 and December 2015. A new video developed by the project’s evaluator, Mathematica Policy Research, and released this week highlights some of these efforts from the perspective of the cities.

Some cities have municipal health departments which have played a key outreach and enrollment role in their campaigns.  For example, the New Bedford Health Department developed the Health Access Kids campaign, which coupled health insurance enrollment assistance with services provided by the department, such as immunizations and preventive dental screenings. The campaign team found that providing a tangible benefit encouraged students and families to better appreciate the value of health insurance coverage.

Other cities have partnered with a county health department to accomplish their enrollment goals. Coming under Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto’s Live Well Pittsburgh initiative, the Healthy Together campaign has worked closely with the Alleghany County Health Department Director and her team. Pittsburgh was the first city to in the county to join in the department’s Live Well campaign, a collaborative approach for improving the health and wellness of all county residents.

The YEF Institute has seen committed city leaders across a wide range of agencies use their unique positions in city government to improve the health of children and families in their communities by launching or supporting health insurance outreach and enrollment campaigns.

In July 2016, NLC’s YEF Institute will be hosting the Cities Promoting Health Access for Children and Families Leadership Academy – an opportunity for new cities to learn from the eight CEHACF cities about how to develop campaigns to enroll children and families in health insurance. Stay tuned for a blogpost next week to find out how to apply!

To learn more about this initiative, contact Dawn Schluckebier at Schluckebier@nlc.org.

About the Authors:

Dawn Schluckebeir_headshotDawn Schluckebier is a Senior Associate for Family Economic Success in NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. Follow Dawn on Twitter at @TheSchluck.

 

Carla PlazaCarla I. Plaza is a consultant to the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families’ health benefits outreach project. Follow Carla on Twitter at @cipinwdc.