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HOUSTON – Children’s Defense Fund-Texas (CDF-TX) is honored to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a national best practice for its partnership with Fiesta Mart, Inc. to help uninsured children that are eligible to sign up for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Children’s Medicaid. Today, the Department highlighted the effectiveness of the outreach partnership which has assisted approximately 25,000 Houston-area children to apply for affordable health coverage.
For ten years, CDF-TX has partnered with Fiesta Mart, Inc., a Houston-based chain of neighborhood grocery stores, to hold and promote regularly scheduled children's health insurance sign-up drives that have helped the parents of more than 25,000 children to apply for CHIP and Children's Medicaid. These one-day campaigns are held at supermarket locations across Houston, targeted in lower-income areas with large pockets of uninsured. The enrollment drives are publicized in advance through grocery store circulars, school flyers and announcements, and through local media. During each event, CDF-trained volunteers, state contracted community-based outreach organizations, and representatives from local CHIP and Medicaid health plans, are on site to provide application assistance and answer any questions. Over the years, CDF-TX has also engaged a number of other stakeholders in the initiative, including the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Harris County Hospital District, Gulf Coast CHIP Coalition, the Better Business Bureau, Houston Apartment Association, local nonprofits, and area high school, college, and medical students.
There is still much work to be done. The Children’s Defense Fund recently released new state data on a variety of child welfare indicators including the number of uninsured children. While fewer Texas children are uninsured in 2011 than were in 2008 -- thanks in part to new legislation and effective outreach efforts -- Texas remains the state with the highest number and rate of uninsured children in the nation.
Furthermore, cuts recently proposed in the Texas legislature, would make it more difficult for children enrolled in the programs to find doctors who accept CHIP and Medicaid due to deep reductions in provider reimbursement rates which would force many doctors to withdraw from participation. In this climate, CDF-TX remains committed to reaching the finish line and advocating for the day when every Texas child has access to the healthcare coverage they need without interruption or bureaucratic obstacles.
As we mark the 2nd anniversary of the federal reauthorization of CHIP, we are encouraged by yesterday’s announcement by HHS that more than 2 million children nationwide have been served by Medicaid or CHIP in the past year. Together the programs serve more than 42 million children. We must continue local efforts to connect eligible, but unenrolled children to coverage and insist that our legislators do all they can to protect and maintain the effectiveness of these vital programs.
Read about CDF-Texas' child health outreach initiatives: cdftexas.org/policy-priorities/childrens-health/
Download CDF's Children in the States Factsheet on Texas children: www.childrensdefense.org/cits