As part of a state-wide effort to link uninsured children with low or no cost health coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Children’s Medicaid, The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF) is joining the Children’s Defense Fund of Texas, the Houston Independent School District, elected officials and health and business leaders of Harris County to launch a Valentine’s awareness month to promote children’s health insurance.
MSDF co-founder Susan Dell will join key community leaders in making Valentines today with children at Will Rogers Elementary School in an effort to promote children’s health insurance. Participants include Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, Damon Williams, District Director, Office of Texas Representative Garnet Coleman, Rob Mosbacher, Chair of the Health Care Task Force, Greater Houston Partnership, Dr. Jeffrey Starke, Chief of Pediatrics, Ben Taub General Hospital and Gail Revis, Director of Special Projects and Student Initiatives for the Houston Independent School District.
“Michael and I believe Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to encourage parents to give their children a true gift from the heart—health insurance. Good health is a critical first step to help children realize their full potential,” said Susan Dell.
The Children’s Defense Fund of Texas and children’s health outreach organizations of Harris County including, Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services, Families Under Urban & Social Attack and St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities will organize outreach events throughout the month to enroll children in health coverage, including the 9th city-wide enrollment campaign at participating Fiesta Mart, Inc. stores on Saturday, February 8 and the distribution of valentines promoting children’s health insurance to all 210,000 HISD students during the week of February 10-14.
Although more than 500,000 children have been enrolled in the Texas CHIP program since it began on May 1, 2000, hundreds of thousands of children in Texas continue to lack health insurance.
The Valentine’s initiative reflects the ongoing commitment of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation to improve the health and education of children in Texas. In its first three years, the Foundation has provided more than $37 million to initiatives that impact children’s well-being, the foundation’s primary area of focus. In 1999, the Foundation developed the insure•a•kid program with the goal of increasing the number of children enrolled in health insurance in Central Texas. The Foundation has now taken its efforts statewide by committing $2.5 million to 6 communities across Texas to expand insure•a•kid in Austin and to develop school outreach programs for children’s health insurance in local districts. The goal of the initiative is to incorporate children’s health insurance outreach activities into the district’s policies and procedures and become a routine part of school activities.
“Schools understand that healthy students are better students, and I appreciate the commitment school districts are making to children’s health insurance, “ said Susan Dell.
In Houston, the Foundation has provided $380,000 in funding to the Children’s Defense Fund of Texas (Houston/Harris County office) to develop a children’s health insurance outreach and training initiative with the Houston Independent School District. CDF has been providing ongoing training to HISD School Nurses and Project Reconnect staff, family support specialists based in schools, to complete children’s health insurance applications and to incorporate CHIP and Children’s Medicaid into school outreach and training activities.
As the seventh largest school district in the nation and with more than 210,000 students, HISD is in an ideal position to link uninsured children with low or no-cost health coverage through CHIP and Children’s Medicaid.
HISD Superintendent Dr. Kaye Stripling expressed her support for the insure•a•kid Texas Grant for School Outreach. “HISD understands the relationship of a healthy start in life to a student’s success,” Dr. Stripling said. “Students who go to school ill, cannot see the chalkboard or hear the teacher, have difficulty learning and succeeding. By providing parents with health insurance information, we work to insure that students have the tools they need to develop a healthy, productive future.”
Texas Representative Garnet Coleman also registered his support for the HISD initiative. “In 1999, my colleagues and I in the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate put aside our differences and passed legislation creating CHIP. In 2001, we did it again with Children’s Medicaid. Together, we have enrolled more than 1.5 million children in health insurance in Texas. We applaud Michael and Susan Dell for their vision and leadership in developing school-based outreach programs across Texas. We must keep our promise to make sure that every child in Texas grows up healthy and strong.”
Harris County Judge Robert Eckels said, “I commend the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation for their generous support of children’s health insurance in our community. Children’s health insurance is a wise investment for Texas. Children who do not have health insurance often depend on the emergency room as their only option for health care, at a staggering cost to Harris County tax-payers.”
The press conference will kick-off a month-long awareness campaign to enroll children in health coverage, including the following activities:
- The 9th city-wide enrollment drive at 12 participating Fiesta Supermarkets on Saturday, February 8 from 10am to 4pm.
- A CHIP/Medicaid week at HISD Schools from February 10-14.
- The distribution of bilingual valentines to all 210,000 HISD students.
- Clear Channel Outdoor has donated fifty billboards to promote children’s health insurance throughout the month. The national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has donated the design of these billboards, in English and in Spanish.
- Radio and print ads, developed by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, will run throughout the month promoting children’s health insurance.
- Ongoing outreach and training events.
Some of the benefits provided by CHIP and Children’s Medicaid include regular checkups and doctor’s office visits, shots and immunizations, eye exams and glasses, dental care, hospital care, and mental health services. Eligible families will pay no more than $18.00 per month to insure all of their children. Children are covered from birth through 18.
To obtain an application, families may call 1.800.647.6558 or download an application from the internet at www.texcarepartnership.com. For more information on outreach and training events, contact the Children’s Defense Fund of Texas (Houston/Harris County office) at 713.664.4080.