As the healthcare debate heats up across the nation, today at the Capitol dozens of state agency leaders, associations and community groups filled the first floor rotunda to pledge ongoing resources and support to help more Florida children get health insurance.
The pledges were announced during the annual kick off of the Florida KidCare back-to-school outreach campaign.
Florida KidCare is the state’s low-cost health insurance program for children under the age of 19. To date, approximately 1.6 million children are enrolled and the program is open to accept thousands more. In the last two months alone, 50,000 previously uninsured children began receiving preventive care such as regular doctor visits, immunizations, dental check-ups and prescriptions through Florida KidCare.
“In these tough times, Florida families deserve affordable access to children’s healthcare, which is why we’ve recently seen steady growth in Florida KidCare enrollment,” said CFO Alex Sink. “As we kick off Florida KidCare’s back-to-school push, I hope that more Florida families will enroll in this valuable program.”
During the current economic downturn, families don’t have to go without health insurance for their children. Florida KidCare is designed to provide low-cost healthcare benefits to families regardless of their income. The majority of families enrolled pay nothing at all; others may pay premiums that range from $15 to $159 per month. Children receive coverage under the program’s four components – MediKids, Children’s Medical Services Network, Healthy Kids and Children’s Medicaid.
"At the Agency for Workforce Innovation, we provide Florida's children with early learning opportunities and believe that good health is the cornerstone of children’s development," said AWI Director Cynthia R. Lorenzo. "Every child should have access to quality health care and we are proud to partner with KidCare to help inform parents about this valuable program."
AWI isn’t the only agency offering its resources to promote Florida KidCare. Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros, and Agency for Health Care Administration secretary Holly Benson described additional outreach efforts.
In addition to having a visible presence at back-to-school events across the state, the agencies are implementing the following activities:
The Department of Health is working with all 67 county health departments and 22 Children’s Medical Services facilities across the state to take part in local events such as immunization clinics and back-to-school health fairs where families can learn about Florida KidCare and sign up for the program on the spot.
The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation and the Department of Education are working together to distribute more than 2.5 million Florida KidCare postcards to children at the start of the school year.
The Agency for Health Care Administration is distributing Florida KidCare promotional materials to large pediatric centers across the state.
The Department of Children and Families is sharing Florida KidCare information with families receiving public assistance, such as food stamps and WIC.
Volunteer Florida is distributing Florida KidCare information to faith-based groups statewide.
The Agency for Workforce Innovation is providing Early Learning Coalitions and Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) providers with Florida KidCare materials and applications. AWI has also mailed flyers to citizens receiving unemployment compensation, provided the state's One Stop Career Centers with Florida KidCare applications and reached out to employers who are experiencing layoffs.
“The new Florida KidCare legislation that went into effect July 1st is good news for parents struggling to get and maintain health insurance for their kids,” said Loranne Ausley, chair of the Florida Healthy Kids Board. “The changes are a small yet significant first step, but we are doing everything we can to make it easier for families to enroll in the Florida KidCare program. We expect to see enrollment numbers increase in the months ahead.”
For more information or to apply for Florida KidCare, visit www.floridakidcare.org. Families can also call 1-888-540-5437 to receive an application by mail.