Pittsburgh was awarded $200,000 to insure children in the city through Healthy Together.
The money was granted from the National League of Cities and was given to eight cities that showed a quality and feasible business plan to increase access to healthcare. Cities could receive up to $260,000 for their efforts.
“One of the nice things is that the state of Pennsylvania has actually quite good insurance for children, so we are not talking about large numbers of children that are uninsured," said Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department. "It turns out its more likely for people who are falling on and off insurance, and trying to keep them insured, that we’re really interested in making sure have that access."
Hacker estimates that there are 2,000 children in the city who are uninsured, mostly due to the success of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that insures 162,764 children in Pennsylvania.
Healthy Together is an enrollment campaign that compliments Mayor Bill Peduto’s Live Well Pittsburgh initiative. The campaign will utilize three main strategies to insure more children including: implementing outreach strategies through community organizations, establishing a referral system between schools and insurance enrollment agencies, and having the Peduto administration integrated with enrollment efforts.
Hacker said there are a multitude of reasons why children remain uninsured, sometimes parents forget they have to re-apply every year for CHIP, or they are laid off and lose their children’s insurance. Either way, she feels the trend needs to end.
“I think more than anything what happens is despite the fact that you have the vehicles, it doesn’t necessarily mean that people always use them," Hacker said. "You know I think in many cases people don’t think about insurance until the day that they need it.”
The specifics on how the money will be spent are expected to be released Tuesday.