After months of planning and groundwork by the city and its partners, the NLC announced Pittsburgh as one of eight cities nationwide that will receive funding to implement the program, which seeks to find children and youth under 19 years of age who qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but who are not currently enrolled in public health insurance programs.
The Peduto administration’s Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment worked with the Consumer Health Coalition, the Allegheny County Health Department, Allies for Children and a score of other partners developing the Pittsburgh campaign, calledHealthy Together. Healthy Together is the first tier of the Live Well Pittsburgh initiative launched in April 2014, designed to target the total health of the city. The Healthy Together enrollment campaign prioritizes health insurance enrollment for youth across the city’s 90 neighborhoods, to increase access to care and empower community members to take control of their health.
The core strategies of the campaign are to implement a sustainable model utilizing existing channels that can fold into the daily work of city government, as well as conduct outreach efforts in communities most likely to have uninsured children, and bring systematic change to institutions serving youth.
“I want to thank the National League of Cities for this award, which is the result of a lot of hard work. But there is still more to do,” Mayor William Peduto said. “We are going to use this program to reach 100% health insurance enrollment for our youth, and build a model outreach effort that other cities can duplicate across the country.”
“Making sure that our children have access to insurance and appropriate medical care is a major component to support good public health,” said Dr. Karen Hacker of the county health department. “This grant opportunity allows Pittsburgh to support children and their families and as the county health department director, I am thrilled that our team has been successful.”
Patrick Dowd, executive director of Allies for Children (pictured) , said “Hundreds of uninsured children live in Pittsburgh. These kids are five times more likely to have an unmet medical concern and three times more likely to not have access to prescription drugs, like asthma inhalers. Additionally, uninsured kids are 30 percent less likely to get medical treatment when injured. This grant will help expand health access to every child in every neighborhood, so they can enjoy their childhoods to the fullest.”
Beth Heeb, executive director of Consumer Health Coalition, said “We are thrilled that the city is putting the health care of our children at the forefront. We believe that this project will make Pittsburgh a model for the rest of the nation by reducing the uninsured through real collaboration between government and community.”
The Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families (CEHACF) Initiative will help cities implement comprehensive campaigns to enroll children and families in Medicaid and CHIP and reduce the uninsured rate for children and families by 50% in each of the cities. Families with health insurance reduce emergency room visits, avoid crushing health care costs, and have healthier children who perform better in school.
“As a nation, we’ve made significant progress on enrolling eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP, but millions of children who qualify for coverage under these programs still need to sign up. Cities are vital partners in outreach and enrollment efforts,” said Cindy Mann, Deputy Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “We applaud National League of Cities for its leadership and support.”
NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families is coordinating the initiative as part of a multi-year effort to increase access to health care for children and families funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies. Each city was chosen based on the quality and feasibility of business plans that were submitted in the spring.
The other cities selected are:
• Savannah, Georgia
• Jacksonville, Florida
• Garden City, Michigan
• New Bedford, Massachusetts
• Hattiesburg, Mississippi
• Providence, Rhode Island
• Dallas, Texas
“Each city chosen had a rigorous business plan that detailed a clear path forward to drive down the rate of the uninsured in their communities,” said Clarence Anthony, executive director of NLC. “Each city should be commended for the positive contributions they will make to their communities. There are clear benefits to the program with healthier kids meaning better high school and college completion rates and financial savings for the community.”
NLC will provide cities with customized assistance, access to best practices and national experts and opportunities for peer learning during the implementation process. Emphasis will be placed on cross-community collaboration among city agencies, school districts, hospitals and clinics and other community-based organizations.
The leadership team for Pittsburgh’s Healthy Together effort includes the city’s Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment, Allies for Children, the Consumer Health Coalition and the Allegheny County Health Department.
Other partners include: Allegheny County Department of Human Services; - University Center for Social & Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh Public Schools; United Way of Allegheny County; Allegheny County Children's Court; Enroll America; YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh, Center for Race & Gender Equity; Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; A+ Schools; Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; Squirrel Hill Health Center; SEIU; Homeless Children's Education Fund; Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh; Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; Latino Family Center; Brashear Association; Kingsley Association; Perry Hilltop Citizens Council.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.
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