CoverKids, a government program designed to provide health insurance to children in low-income and working class families, was introduced in March of 2007. By February of this year, 4, 054 Shelby County children were enrolled in the program. By May 31, 2009, 4, 909 local children were enrolled in CoverKids (Wilemon, 2009), representing an enrollment increase of 21% over the four month period.* Although enrollment in CoverKids is increasing, health care coverage for children remains a critical issue in Memphis and across the state. In Tennessee, there are approximately 126,000 uninsured children (Wilemon, 2009).
The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (the first piece of legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama) has allocated over $40 million dollars in grant funding specifically for programs working to increase enrollment in State Children’s Health Insurance Programs. The grant money for outreach efforts is available to states and community-based organizations. Nonprofit groups that advance efforts for children’s health initiatives can find more information at www.grants.gov. Grant funding will be awarded by the end of September.
Steven Broderick, communications director for U.S. Rep. Steven Cohen, encourages any nonprofit organization interested in children’s health initiatives to contact Cohen’s office for advice (Phone Number – 901.544.4131).
“[Community organizations] are in the trenches, “Broderick said. “They know where these kids are. It’s a matter of going to the parent, who may not understand how the programs work or may not know the program is there, and telling them we can get health insurance for your kid” (Wilemon, 2009).
*For more information on Tennessee health care coverage for children in poor and working class families, including income eligibility and benefits information, please see Covering Kids’ Health Needs at http://www.theurbanchildinstitute.org/Download.php?fileId=49c7c28dc50bb8.34476521.