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Hattiesburg receives funding to reduce number of uninsured children

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HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

This is a news release from Medicaid and the Children's Health Unsurance Program.

To help implement local outreach efforts to enroll children and families in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the National League of Cities (NLC) today awarded grants and technical assistance to eight cities, one of those cities being Hattiesburg.

The Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families Initiative will help cities implement comprehensive campaigns to enroll children and families in Medicaid and CHIP and reduce the uninsured rate for children and families by 50 percent in each of the cities. Families with health insurance reduce emergency room visits, avoid crushing health care costs and have healthier children who perform better in school.

"As a nation, we've made significant progress on enrolling eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP, but millions of children who qualify for coverage under these programs still need to sign up. Cities are vital partners in outreach and enrollment efforts," said Cindy Mann, Deputy Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "We applaud National League of Cities for its leadership and support."

The cities were chosen based on the quality and feasibility of business plans that were submitted in the spring and will receive grants of up to $260,000.

"Each of the cities chosen had a rigorous business plan that detailed a clear path forward to drive down the rate of the uninsured in their communities," said Clarence Anthony, NLC's executive director. He continued, "Each city should be commended for the positive contributions they will make to their communities. There are clear benefits to the program with healthier kids meaning better high school and college completion rates and financial savings for the community."

The cities selected are:

  • Dallas, Texas
  • Garden City, Michigan
  • Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Providence, Rhode Island 
  • Savannah, Georgia

NLC will provide cities with customized assistance, access to best practices and national experts and opportunities for peer learning during the implementation process. Emphasis will be placed on cross-community collaboration among city agencies, school districts, hospitals and clinics and other community-based organizations.

NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families is coordinating the Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families initiative as part of a multi-year effort to increase access to health care for children and families funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies. The three-year program involves three phases: Year One saw 23 cities attending regional leadership academies to learn how to develop data-driven and broad-based health benefits outreach campaigns; in Year Two, NLC selected 12 of the 23 cities to receive planning grants and technical assistance to develop comprehensive business plans for implementing the outreach campaigns; in today's Year Three announcement, the implementation grants were based on the strength and feasibility of the business plans created in Year Two.

Descriptions of the selected cities and their programs:

Dallas
Coordinated by the city's Housing and Community Services Department, Dallas' Healthy Children in a Healthy Environment campaign focuses on training staff to become enrollment assistors and coordinating and consolidating existing enrollment efforts in order to increase effective ness.

Garden City
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 
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 
The Cover Jacksonville campaign will be led by the city's first ever Mayor-appointed Health Commissioner working in partnership with the Jacksonville Children's Commission and community partners. The four main outreach and enrollment strategies of the campaign are: providing training and increasing enrollment assistance to build the community's capacity; 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
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
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 
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
Led by the mayor's office in partnership 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.