When children head back to school, parents often worry about how they will do and anxiously await that first report card. Parents whose children lack health insurance have additional worries such as paying for doctor visits, medications or the physical exams for school sports. While there will be more opportunities for everyone to get affordable coverage once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, most uninsured children don’t have to wait because they are already eligible for health coverage through programs such as ARKids First. That was the message delivered last Friday by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius when she unveiled a list of groups that have accepted a challenge to enroll all of the country’s eligible uninsured children into coverage over the next five years. Communities across the country were alsofeatured in their efforts to accept the challenge.
Our state has made great strides toward reaching out to all children eligible for ARKids First. Arkansas has reduced the number of eligible but unenrolled children to only one in three. The policy and outreach efforts by Finish Line Coalition members have formed a solid foundation that our state leaders can build upon as they move forward to make the promise of the Affordable Care Act a reality for all residents of our state. In the meantime, we can prevent children from slipping through the cracks by reaching all eligible children so they get the care they need to do well in school and be successful in life. That is why Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families accepted the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge.
We will fulfill our commitment by working to cut the red tape of the application and renewal processes, recommitting to our partners who are trying to enroll and retain eligible Arkansas children in ARKids First, using our website to encourage our allies to commit to this effort, finding new outreach venues for enrolling Arkansas children, and working to make the renewal process easier. We will also be asking our partners to participate in a Child Health Summit on September 29 in Little Rock. Contact Joyce Hardy at 501-371-9678 x113 to register or for more information.
Our state is on the right track and with a little extra push we can reach our goal of getting all eligible children covered. Educators, coaches, faith leaders and community members can help bring home this victory for Arkansas children by spreading the word about the successful ARKids First program and encouraging families to enroll their children. Families interested in learning more about ARKids First should call 1-888-474-8275 or visit www.ARKidsFirst.com.