U.S. grant to help connect Pa. kids with insurance

    A consortium of family advocates has nearly $900,000 and two years to connect about 8,000 Pennsylvania kids with health insurance.

    The enrollment strategies have already been tested by the Maternal and Child Health Consortium in Chester County. Officials there say community health workers who speak the language–and know a community well–work best to connect families with insurance and guide them through the state’s online application process.

    The new grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is earmarked for kids who are likely to experience gaps in health coverage. In Southeast Pennsylvania, consortium workers will focus on signing up the children of immigrants.

    The Maternity Care Coalition will lead the effort in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware counties. Bette Begleiter is deputy executive director.

    “It’s not enough to just give somebody an application and an explanation of how to do it,” said Bette Begleiter, deputy executive director. “They may need help filling it out, they may need help gathering documents they have to include, and we stick with them until they are actually successfully enrolled.”

    Citizen children are eligible for Medicaid and Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, whether or not their parents are documented immigrants.

    LeeAnn Riloff is director of development for the Maternal and Child Health Consortium in Chester County. Her group is adding a new community outreach worker and a manager for the program.

    “They need the bilingual skills, they need the skills to make connections with families and gain their trust, they need the expertise on the COMPASS system, and they need the persistence to work with the county assistance office to make sure that approval does happen,” Riloff said.

    According to a census report, about 15 percent of kids from low-income U.S.-born families were uninsured in 2005. About 48 percent of children from low-income immigrant families had no health coverage that year.

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