No matter where you live, having access to health coverage is critical to good health. An estimated 13.4 million children under the age of 18 live in rural areas across the United States. And kids in these communities are 24 percent more likely than those in urban areas to depend on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for their health coverage. Additionally, Medicaid and CHIP cover over 300,000 American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children nationwide, many of whom reside in rural areas, including on Indian reservations, and may be more likely to rely on Medicaid and CHIP for coverage than all other children. National Rural Health Day, which occurs on November 17th, provides a national opportunity to prioritize outreach to families in America’s rural communities and help get them enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP.
Reaching children and families who are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP can be especially challenging in rural areas of the country. Those living in rural communities face many obstacles including higher poverty rates, lack of access to health care services, unemployment, and more. Many organizations conducting Medicaid and CHIP outreach and enrollment activities have found that meeting families where they are in the community (e.g., places of worship, grocery stores, community events) or partnering with local organizations have been essential to sharing information and increasing enrollment.
The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign’s (the Campaign) Rural Health initiative page offers multiple resources to help reaching out to children and families in rural communities who are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, including a rural health strategy, rural health outreach tools, and American Indian/Alaska Native outreach resources.
The Importance of Vaccinating Against Flu
Influenza/”flu” is a contagious respiratory illness that can lead to serious complications, especially in young children. Early increases in seasonal flu activity have continued nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 2.8 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 1,300 deaths from flu. Families can protect their children by getting them vaccinated, which is covered by Medicaid and CHIP. The flu vaccine is proven to be the most effective way to reduce the severity of illness and hospitalizations in adults and children. It also helps to protect the people and communities close by that may be most vulnerable due to chronic conditions or because they cannot get vaccinated for other health related reasons.
Remember to Encourage Families to Update Contact Information with Their State Medicaid Office
Once the temporary COVID-19 pandemic waiver for Medicaid and CHIP requirements is lifted, families will need to renew their health coverage again annually. It is very important to remind beneficiaries to update their contact information with their state Medicaid offices now, before the temporary waiver is lifted, so beneficiaries don’t miss out on important renewal and other information coming by mail. Check out the Medicaid and CHIP Continuous Enrollment Unwinding Toolkit and share this important message throughout your community to ensure families stay covered. The Unwinding Toolkit offers resources, including in Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Tagalog and Vietnamese, to help inform families with Medicaid and CHIP about the necessary steps they need to take to renew their annual coverage.
- Vaccination Initiative Page: The Campaign’s Vaccinations Initiative page offers multiple resources that promote flu and general vaccination outreach, including posters, videos, text messages, and detailed infographics that offer valuable information regarding vaccines.
- November 17 NOFO Webinar: This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) makes available up to an additional $6 million in HEALTHY KIDS Act funding to Indian tribes, tribal consortiums, and urban Indian organizations. Organizations will receive funds to reduce the number of AI/AN children who are eligible for but not enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, and to improve retention of those who are already enrolled.
Current & Upcoming Observances:
- National Rural Health Day (11/17)
- Native American Heritage Month (November)
- National Diabetes Month (November)
- National Epilepsy Month (November)
- Prematurity Awareness Month (November)
- International Day of Persons with Disability (12/3)
- National Influenza Vaccination Week (12/5-12/11)
- National Handwashing Day (12/5-12/11)
Stay Connected with the Campaign
- Share our Campaign materials. Our ever-growing, multi-lingual Outreach Tool Library features a variety of targeted resources to use in your outreach and enrollment efforts, available in multiple formats.
- Contact us. To get more involved with the Campaign, contact us via email at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov.
- Follow the Campaign on Twitter. Remember to re-tweet or share our messages from @IKNGov with your social network and be sure to use our #Enroll365 and #KidsEnroll hashtags in your posts.
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