Children and families fell in line Thursday tooting kazoos and banging makeshift instruments through Northview Heights beside the players of Pittsburgh's River City Brass Band.
Dubbed March Pittsburgh, the movement kicked off an effort to enroll youth in health care programs with help from from a $40,000 UPMC Health Plan sponsorship, Mayor Bill Peduto's office, the Consumer Health Coalition and other partners.
Organizers estimate 2,000 local children qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program but are not enrolled.
“Those 2,000 kids are going to be the ones that are going to have a hard time when they start school," Peduto said at the event. "They’re going to be the ones (who) are going to be struggling to stay in school. They’re going to be the ones having a hard time staying on a path that will lead them away from things they don’t want to be a part of.”
City Councilwoman Darlene Harris told block party attendees that access to quality care will set children up for success in the future.
“Knowing that your child is insured gives you peace of mind to allow you to focus on what is best for them without the fear of crippling medical bills," she said. "That’s why we need to address this problem now.”
Bringing coverage options directly to city neighborhoods is one more modus to familiarizing Pittsburghers with a growing local need, Peduto said.
“So many times these families move, so many times there are problems there where a parent doesn’t know how to go through just the basics of signing up, so we’re going to make it really easy,” he said.
The band will hit the road in a 10-neighborhood tour during the next two months as they help families sign up for affordable health care.
To enroll a child under age 19, call the Consumer Health Coalition helpline by dialing 2-1-1 or check online.