Treasure Valley children, particularly low-income kids, will have greater access to care, thanks in large part to more than a half-million-dollar grant to a community health initiative called Covering Idaho Kids, a program of the Mountain States Group.
“We have a team of outreach workers that will be working throughout Ada County, Canyon County, as well as all of the surrounding counties to help people through the process of applying for Medicaid and CHIP,” Covering Idaho Kids program director David Chase told Boise Weekly.
The grant of $539,956 will be used to pay for salaries and services necessary to help support the day-to-day operations of the program. Covering Idaho Kids staff members sit down with families and help them apply for children's insurance policies through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Financial qualifications for adolescent insurance vary from family to family.
“It depends on the family size,” Chase said. “For instance, for a family of four, say mom, dad, and two kids, it comes to about $3,630 a month.”
This means a four-member Idaho household with a yearly combined income of $43,630 a year qualifies for programs like Medicaid and CHIP.
“A lot of people don’t understand that the income level requirements are higher than you might think,” Chase said. “That’s because of the rising costs of insurance everywhere.”
The program isn’t limited to grade school-age children.
“A lot of people think the health insurance plans are just for little kids, but they are not, they cover children up until their 19th birthday,” Chase said.
Program outreach workers notify families about Covering Idaho Kids and their services by partnering with schools and community centers in the Treasure Valley.
“We work with the libraries, we work with the school districts, and we are talking with the YMCA right now,” Chase said.
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services provide funding for Covering Idaho Kids. Program financial recipients are required to submit data and cost projections every two years in order to receive grant money to continue services to the public.
“What we do is try to figure approximately out how much it is going to cost to staff it and run the program over the two years and provide materials and all of those things,” said Chase. “We submit that information in our grant submission and then the CMS reviews it for approval.”
With major provisions of the Affordable Care Act including insurance mandates set to take effect Jan. 1, 2014, Chase foresees the legislation as a hurdle for finding and assisting qualifying kids.
“It’s going to make things a little bit harder for us,” Chase said. “More people are already going to know what their options are and they are going to be achieving those goals on their own. They are going to be going to the health care exchange on their own. We then are going to have to look for the higher hanging fruit.”