Statewide coalition kicks off back-to-school campaign to enroll kids in KidCare—

Statewide coalition kicks off back-to-school campaign to enroll kids in KidCare—


CHICAGO—Today, 144,300 Illinois children who lack health insurance are eligible for low-cost or free health care coverage through KidCare, but they are not enrolled. Covering Kids and Families Illinois recently released new data, compiled by the Urban Institute, that quantify the number of Illinois children who are needlessly uninsured. Because this data illustrates the need to reach families immediately, Covering Kids and Families Illinois released the new data and launched their Back-to-School 2002 enrollment drive at Senator Miguel del Valle’s 9th Annual Health Fair in Mozart Park.

“The Covering Kids coalition and the KidCare central unit have done a great job enrolling over 165,000 Illinois children into KidCare, but it is amazing that there are still many kids whom we need to reach,” said Senator Miguel del Valle. “We owe it to parents who work hard to take care of their kids to let them know about KidCare. And we owe it to every child who is eligible for these programs to get them enrolled.”

On Aug. 2, Covering Kids and Families Illinois coalition members kicked off their 2002 Back-to-School enrollment campaign to reach families as they prepare their children for a successful school year.

“When children are uninsured and don’t have access to regular checkups and prescription medicines, we cannot expect them to achieve their potential,” said Dr. Virginia Bishop-Townsend, medical consultant for Jose de Diego Community Academy and physician of Children’s Memorial Hospital. “KidCare helps parents keep their children healthy so they can be successful in school.”

Covering Kids and Families Illinois is a grantee of Covering Kids, a national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Covering Kids works to connect uninsured children to low-cost and free health care coverage programs available in every state and the District of Columbia. During the third annual Back-to-School enrollment drive, Covering Kids coalitions nationwide, along with national and local organizations, will hold more than 1,000 outreach events.

“All of Illinois’ children deserve the opportunity for a healthy start in life. KidCare helps provide that healthy start,” said Susana Gonzalez, RN of the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Health, Research and Policy Center. “No family should have to fear that the loss of a job or an increase in their insurance premium will leave their child without health care. Let’s get the word out to parents… KidCare offers low-cost and free health care coverage for children.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, eight out of 10 uninsured children are in working families. Three-quarters of these families do not have access to an employer-provided health plan that covers children. An Illinois family of four earning up to $33,480 a year or more may qualify for KidCare coverage for their children.

“The new data shows that there are still plenty of kids eligible for Illinois’ KidCare program,” said Robyn Gabel, executive director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, the lead organization for Covering Kids and Families Illinois. “Studies show that five out of 10 eligible families do not know that they qualify for programs like KidCare.”

With KidCare coverage, children up to age 19 have access to doctor visits, prescriptions, hospitalizations, hearing, vision and dental care. Pregnant women who fall into income guidelines can also qualify for coverage.

“The state has played a proactive part in KidCare enrollments. The new challenge is to ensure that eligible families stay enrolled in the program. Currently, we’re working with the state on renewal numbers and developing methods to keep eligible kids on continuous health care coverage,” said Gabel.

Paula Bermudez and her son, Joel Caldero, a KidCare enrollee, attended the event to help spread the word to area families that their uninsured kids may be eligible for coverage.

Joel was born with pulmonary stenosis, a congenital heart disorder that limits the supply of blood and oxygen to the body. After two corrective surgeries, Bermudez had to sell her house in order to pay costly medical bills. Joel continued to have health problems and required further medical visits. She has been covered under KidCare since July 1st, and is very pleased with the coverage. Bermudez said, “I never thought I would be on a government program, but this is something for working families. I don’t want other families to fall through the cracks. There is help out there for you.”

Families can learn more about low-cost and free health care coverage for children through KidCare by calling toll free at 1-866-468-7543 or visiting

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