Florida KidCare partners and community leaders today celebrated Florida’s position as the national leader in reducing the rate of children without health insurance and announced a new campaign and commitment to get every child covered.
According to the most recent data from the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, Florida leads the nation in decreasing the number of uninsured children, down from 16.7 percent to 12.7 percent over a span of two years. Officials say this reduction is particularly impressive, given population growth during that period of time.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who designates a chair for the board of directors of Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, credited the work of Florida KidCare partners and praised the Florida Legislature for providing resources for the program to accommodate 100 percent of the projected enrollment. The 2012 Florida Legislature also passed a law extending subsidized coverage through Florida KidCare to eligible dependents of state employees.
“Florida saw that there were far too many children in our state without access to care, and Florida developed a solution with KidCare that is working,” said CFO Atwater. “We have made incredible progress, but there is still work to be done. We have a duty to ensure that the next generation of Floridians is healthy and ready to grasp all of the opportunities the future holds.”
In order to celebrate this achievement and boost support moving forward, Florida KidCare partners and state leaders pledged their efforts to get all children covered and launched a new campaign called “Kids Oughta Be Covered.”
The campaign drives home that message through a series of visuals, featuring children safely covered — under blankets, umbrellas, forts, tents and other structures, reinforcing the idea that every child should be covered by health insurance. Throughout this campaign, one character will be visible and featured in the child-friendly materials: “Kid Care,” the superhero with the mission to make sure every kid is covered. Florida KidCare partners are staging local events throughout the state for the back to school season, distributing campaign posters, brochures and postcards to remind families that “Kids Oughta Be Covered.”
Florida KidCare, introduced in 1998, is the umbrella for children’s health insurance programs in Florida and consists of Florida Healthy Kids (non-Medicaid eligible children ages 5-18,) MediKids (non-Medicaid eligible children ages 1-4,) Children’s Medical Services Network (children birth to 18 with special health care needs) and Medicaid for Children (low-income children from birth to 18.)
“We are on a mission to make sure that every Florida child is covered by health insurance,” said Wendy Link, Florida Healthy Kids Corporation Board Chair Designee. “Kids with insurance are more likely to receive regular, preventive health care and as a result stay healthier.”
Rich Robleto, executive director of Florida Healthy Kids Corp., said he is optimistic that the state can further close the gap.
“Nearly every family, no matter what the income level, can find affordable health insurance for their children through one of these programs,” Robleto said. “The goal of our campaign is to make sure parents understand the importance of having health insurance coverage for their children and to let them know that it is available and affordable.”
“As the Florida Department of Children and Families works hard to strengthen families, KidCare and Healthy Kids are important partners in ensuring all kids have access to the resources they need to keep them healthy, happy and safe,” said Deputy Secretary Suzanne Vitale.
The most recent census of Florida’s population of uninsured children documents a drop from an estimated 700,000 to 507,000, bringing the state’s percentage down 4 percent, according to the Georgetown University report.
“At first glance, having health insurance and doing well in school may not seem to be closely related. But in fact, kids who have health insurance see their doctors regularly and are able to receive treatment if they get sick,” said Penny Detscher, Program Director of the Office of Healthy Schools at the Florida Department of Education. “As a result, they are likely to miss fewer days of school which helps them to stay current with their school assignments, pay closer attention in class and enjoy the social and extracurricular opportunities their schools may offer.”
The “Kids Oughta Be Covered” campaign is designed to capture children’s attention and interest with the superhero Kid Care’s adventures and other child-friendly elements.
“With this new campaign, we will roll up our sleeves and recommit ourselves to extending essential, comprehensive health insurance coverage to every eligible child,” said Liz Dudek, Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration. “To accomplish this, we need to educate and motivate parents about the benefit that health insurance provides to their families and their children.”