State Health Department Moves Forward with Enrolling Uninsured Children, Facilitates Forum on Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment

Albany, NY, July 30, 2007 - Restructuring the health care system to make it patient-centered by eliminating health disparities and providing greater access to health care services for uninsured New Yorkers will be the subject of the Western New York Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment forum on July 31 and August 7 hosted by the State Department of Health.

"The State Health Department is implementing Governor Eliot Spitzer's agenda to restructure New York's health care system, including making health insurance available to all New Yorkers," said state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "As a first step, the Child Health Plus insurance program will be expanded to $80,000 annually for a family of four. With this increase, every family in Western New York should be able to access health insurance for their children."

"The second step of this effort is to work with other state agencies, the legislature, and local stakeholders to raise the quality of care and move toward universal coverage," added Dr. Daines.

These work sessions will bring together facilitated enrollers and other local community groups under contract with the Department to develop ways to identify uninsured children and to learn about methods to assist their families with enrolling in Medicaid, Family Health Plus and Child Health Plus.

Local contract agencies participating in the sessions include Catholic Charities WIC, Planned Parenthood of Western New York, Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network, Bethel Head Start, Community Action Organization of Erie County, Boys and Girls Clubs of Buffalo, YMCA of Greater Buffalo, Grace Nurseryland, Buffalo Community Center Collaboration, Sheehan Memorial Hospital, Parish Nurse Ministries of New York, and Kaleida Health.

In addition, these sessions will be used to develop a pilot program to help link Western New York's uninsured children with facilitated enrollers. Partners in this initiative are the Erie County Department of Health, Kaleida Health, Fidelis Care New York, Univera Community Health, and Health Now. These organizations will help families navigate the application process for enrolling in Medicaid, Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus. The pilot program will be carried out from September through November of this year.

Health Insurance Makes a Difference

Uninsured children are:

  • Five times more likely to go without needed medical care and three times more likely not to get a needed prescription medication.
  • Much less likely to receive preventive medical services including immunizations, dental and vision care, often leading to increases in conditions such as ear, nose and throat infections, diabetes and asthma.
  • Are 30% less likely than insured children to receive medical treatment if they are injured.

Uninsured Children in Western New York

  • Approximately 50% of New York's uninsured children live outside of New York City.
  • There are more than 12,500 uninsured children living in Erie County.
  • There are nearly 12,000 uninsured children living in Monroe County.

The Buffalo session will be held at 10:00 a.m. July 31, in the State Health Department's Western Region Office, 3rd floor Videoconference Room, 584 Delaware Avenue.

The Rochester session will be held at 10:00 a.m. August 7, at the State Health Department's Western Region Office, 2nd floor Videoconference Room, 335 East Main Street.

More information about New York's health insurance programs for children can be found at the Department's Web site: www.health.ny.gov