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Sports organizations to help state extend coverage to uninsured children

Sports organizations to help state extend coverage to uninsured children

The state and federal government are teaming up with youth sports organizations to provide health co

The state and federal government are teaming up with youth sports organizations to provide health coverage to approximately 343,000 uninsured New York children.

They launched their “Get Covered. Get in the Game” initiative Friday with a news conference at the North Albany YMCA. New York is one of seven states participating in the nationwide effort to reach out to approximately 5 million children who are eligible for free or low-cost health coverage.

In New York, coverage is available to income-eligible families through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as Child Health Plus.

“The federal government is trying to bridge the gap and get more kids enrolled through their coaches, teams and organizations such as the Capital District YMCA,” said Sue Kelly, associate regional administrator with the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The initiative will provide coaches and others with information about the availability of children’s health coverage programs and how families can get their children enrolled, Kelly said. “Coaches and others in the community can serve as resources for families to help ensure children get linked to vital health benefits.”

The initiative tapped coaches and youth sports organizations “to make sure no child is barred from participating in sports because they lack the insurance to pay for a physical or cover injuries,” Kelly said. “When eligible kids enroll in Medicaid and Child Health Plus, they are covered for all their health care needs and that coverage lasts long after the school sports season ends.”

State Health Commissioner Dr. Richard F. Daines, who attended the news conference, said he is frustrated there are 343,000 children in the state who do not have health coverage even though they are eligible for Medicaid or Child Health Plus. “We are capitalizing on New York’s almost sports mania as a magnet to get children involved,” he said.

New York state provides health insurance to approximately 2.1 million children and teens, including more than 1.7 million children who are covered by Medicaid and nearly 396,000 children enrolled in Child Health Plus. Through these public health insurance programs, children have access to regular checkups, doctor visits when they are sick, vaccinations, prescriptions, dental and vision care, hospital and emergency care and more.

Daines said New York has one of the most inclusive public health insurance programs for children in the nation. In 2008, the state expanded its Child Health Plus program to cover children in families up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, approximately $88,000 for a family of four. Since the expansion of eligibility, an additional 130,000 children have been enrolled in Child Health Plus or Medicaid.

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