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PRESS RELEASE: $600,000 awarded to Maine nonprofits to enroll kids in health coverage.

Grant will support outreach to Maine families about the year-round availability of MaineCare, and help families apply or reapply for health coverage.

AUGUSTA – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has awarded Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC) $600,000 over two years through the Connecting Kids to Coverage Outreach and Enrollment Grant program. CAHC will work with a coalition of partners to identify uninsured Maine families eligible for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) health care coverage (known as MaineCare), and to help them enroll and renew their coverage.

CAHC will collaborate with a broad coalition of partners that have extensive experience working with Maine families on health care coverage, including Maine Equal Justice Partners, the Maine Children’s Alliance, nine Community Action Programs (anti-poverty programs that provide a wide range of programs and services to low-income families), the Maine Primary Care Association, three community health centers serving rural areas, and 2-1-1 Maine.

Through this project, CAHC and these partner organizations will conduct outreach to schools, day care providers, and communities to educate Maine families about the year-round availability of MaineCare. Families who are eligible will be connected with local help applying or re-applying for health coverage.

“Health coverage gives kids access to the care they need to be healthy, and gives families peace of mind,” said Emily Brostek, Executive Director of CAHC. “We are excited to work with other Maine organizations committed to the health of Maine families and communities to make sure that Maine kids get the coverage they need.”

Nationally, children’s coverage has been rising, and uninsured rates for children have dropped from 7.2 to 6.0 percent. Unfortunately, Maine’s trend has been going the other way. According to US Census Bureau data, between 2012 and 2014, the rate of uninsured children in Maine rose from 4.6% to 6.3%. This amounts to approximately 16,300 children in Maine who are going without coverage and possibly foregoing preventive or urgent care.

“It’s tragic that Maine has seen an increase in the number of children without health care coverage while nationwide figures have plummeted to an all-time low. The outreach efforts funded by this grant will be key to reversing that trend so more Maine kids can get a healthy start to life,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “I’m proud to support this initiative by Consumers for Affordable Healthcare and thankful for all their work to help Maine families access the health care they need.”

“Every child in Maine should have health care. But for too many, that’s just not the reality – and it’s a direct result of not having health insurance,” Senator King said. “This grant funding will help change that. By supporting the Consumers for Affordable Health Care Foundation, this funding will help children across Maine access the health insurance and health care services they need to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.”

Studies show that children with health insurance are more likely to get the health care they need, including preventive care. Insured children are also better equipped to do well in school.
“Children need to be healthy to reach their full potential,” said Claire Berkowitz, Executive Director of the Maine Children’s Alliance. “Connecting Maine kids to health coverage will give them access to regular checkups, preventative services and immunizations, and get medical attention if they get sick or injured.”

“MPCA is thrilled with CMS’ decision to support this important work in Maine,” said Vanessa Santarelli, CEO of the Maine Primary Care Association. “Insurance coverage is one important step in improving access to primary and preventive care for all Mainers – especially for our most vulnerable.”

According to a recent study published in Academic Pediatrics, as many as 68% of uninsured children qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, but are not enrolled because they do not know they are eligible or have trouble with enrollment.

“The MaineCare enrollment process can be daunting for many families. Having a trained professional by their side as they apply for coverage will hopefully increase the number of children who get covered,” WMCA Community Action Navigator Consortium Project Director Janice Daku said. “Our statewide Navigator Consortium is excited to have a more active role in helping families enroll in MaineCare through in-person enrollment assistance.”

The Connecting Kids to Coverage Outreach and Enrollment Grant funds are provided under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, continuing the program first funded in 2009 under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) and extended under the Affordable Care Act. CMS awarded a total of $32 million in federal funding over two years to 38 organizations in 27 states on Monday, June 13.

Consumers for Affordable Health Care is a nonprofit advocacy organization committed to helping all Maine people obtain quality, affordable, health care.

For more information, visit: http://www.mainecahc.org/about-us/

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Open Enrollment is the time of year you can sign up for health insurance.

Open Enrollment to get insurance for 2018 will start November 1, 2017. It will end December 15, 2017.

If you don't sign up for a health plan by December 15, 2017, you may not be able to get health insurance in 2018. If you don't have insurance, you might have to pay a fine when you file your taxes.

Visit HealthCare.gov or call our HelpLine at 1-800-965-7476 to learn more and find out how to apply!

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