Covering all Colorado Kids is within Reach

Colorado is within reach of covering all kids, Cody Belzley, Children’s Campaign’s Vice President of Health Initiatives, wrote in an editorial published this week by Health Policy Solutions.

“We still have about 120,000 uninsured kids in our state,” Belzley wrote. “But the momentum is in our favor. Covering all Colorado kids is within reach, if we’re willing to invest the resources—time, money and political capital—to do it.” Legislators and administrative officials can take four key steps in 2013 to demonstrate their continued commitment to health care coverage for kids:

  1. Approve the Medicaid expansion made possible under the Affordable Care Act.
  2. Continue to streamline and simplify the application, enrollment and re-enrollment processes for Medicaid and CHP+ so families can more easily access the services they need to stay healthy.
  3. Take steps to ensure that once kids get covered they stay covered.
  4. Ensure the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange is in a strong position to serve all families, particularly low-income families who may be shopping for health insurance for the first time.

Ensuring all children can get the care they need, when they need it is not too much to ask. Getting all kids covered is the first step to ensuring access to reliable, high-quality and affordable care they need to grow up healthy and strong. We have made great progress in Colorado over the last five years and with continued investment, we can finish the job.

Kids Will Benefit from Extension of Medicaid to More Adults – Thank you, Gov. Hickenlooper!

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week announced that his administration will seek to strengthen and grow Medicaid as directed by the federal health reform law, the Affordable Care Act. More than 160,000 Coloradans, including nearly 22,000 parents, would be eligible for Medicaid coverage under the proposed expansion. The Children’s Campaign applauds the move because research shows covering parents is one of the best ways to make sure children get the health care they need to stay healthy and grow up strong. Parents who have health coverage are more likely to insure their kids and take them to the doctor.

Colorado is a leader among states in getting kids the care they need, when they need it, through programs like Medicaid and the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+). Roughly 120,000 Colorado kids are uninsured and more than 80,000 of those children are eligible for Medicaid or CHP+, but are not enrolled. Extending Medicaid eligibility to more adults, and particularly parents, is a proven strategy for covering more kids and supporting healthy families that will lead to a more productive and successful future for Colorado. Working together to pass policies like this Medicaid expansion, we can make sure Colorado families are healthy and strong.

To learn more about Medicaid, read stories of Coloradans who are covered by the program and find out how you can support Medicaid, visit InsuringOurFuture.org.

Read more about the announcement from the state, The Denver Post and on our website.

Free Dental Care for Uninsured Kids on Feb 1.

Kids without dental insurance or those who can’t afford dental care can get free care next month. The Colorado Dental Association is holding Give Kids a Smile Day on Feb. 1 to provide more than 250 appointments to kids from low-income families at dental clinics across the state. Appointments are first come, first served. If your family or a child you know can benefit from this opportunity, call (303) 724-6909 or (303) 724-6910 to schedule an appointment. Click here for a list of specific qualifications and available appointments. Ensuring that kids get the oral health care they need is essential to a child’s overall well-being. We applaud the Colorado Dental Association for their leadership and generosity in providing this service.

Colorado Receives $43 Million Bonus for Improving Kids’ Health Insurance Coverage

Colorado earned a $43 million bonus this week from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for expanding coverage and improving program efficiency in CHP+.
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Colorado was recognized for implementing seven out of eight measures of program improvement that will make these programs more effective and efficient for families and taxpayers. These common sense changes make it easier for kids and families to get the coverage they need to stay healthy and grow up strong.

These efficiency measures, paired with recent CHP+ eligibility expansions made possible by the hospital provider fee, have had an impact. Data show that between 2008 and 2010, more than 40,000 children in Colorado have gained coverage. However, state and national surveys estimate that between 8.2 percent and 10.1 percent of children remain uninsured, meaning that about 120,000 Colorado kids still don’t have coverage.

“It’s not too much to ask that all Colorado kids have access to the health care they need, when they need it,” said Chris Watney, President and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign and an All Kids Covered leader. “We will continue to count on policy makers at the Capitol and within the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to make CHP+ and Medicaid a priority and give families the peace of mind that comes with meaningful health coverage.”

Read more about Colorado’s efforts to improve health care access for children in All Kids Covered’s Crossing The Finish Line: Achieving meaningful health care coverage and access for all children in Colorado.

Read All Kids Covered’s press release for more information about the bonus.

Medicaid Education and Advocacy Effort Launches

Medicaid provides quality health coverage to one in five Coloradans, including nearly 400,000 Colorado kids. The Children’s Campaign is proud to be a part of the Insuring Our Future partnership, an alliance of organizations and individuals committed to improving, strengthening and growing Medicaid in Colorado. This week the partnership launched a website, www.insuringourfuture.org, to offer resources including basic health care facts, an overview of what Medicaid is and who it serves, helpful information on cost-shifting in health care and fact sheets for presentations and other outreach needs.

Next week, the coalition plans to add a series of personal stories that highlight real Coloradans and the value Medicaid brings—or could bring—to their lives. In the coming weeks we’ll add additional resources including help in crafting and submitting letters to the editor, reaching out to your state lawmaker and the governor’s office, as well as additional educational materials.

As we continue to build these resources, your thoughts are more valuable than ever. Please don’t hesitate to let us know what additional materials or resources would be helpful to you. For more information about joining the coalition, contact Cody Belzley at cody@coloradokids.org or 303-620-4545.

Fast Fact – Uninsured Colorado Kids

In 2010, about 10 percent of all Colorado children were uninsured. In recent years, Colorado has made great strides toward ensuring all children have health coverage. Since 2008, the number of Colorado children who lack health insurance has decreased by more than 40,000. Adequate health coverage is essential to ensuring children can access the health care they need when they need it. To find the percent of uninsured children in your county, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.