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Friday, Oct 20, 2017
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Ensuring our kids are healthy

That there are 54,209 uninsured children in Hillsborough County alone is distressing, but there also are 30,191 uninsured children in Pinellas County. As a community-focused professional who works with families, I want a community that works together to make sure all children thrive. I am saddened that people in this great country suffer because they have no health insurance. The fact that millions of American children have headed back to school without an annual checkup, which would include a hearing and vision exam, or a visit to the dentist, means we may be harming a generation of our youth. The good news is most uninsured children are eligible for low-cost or free health care coverage. However, many uninsured families in Florida do not realize they may be eligible for health care through Florida KidCare. This low-cost or free program covers doctor visits, checkups and shots, hospital visits, emergency room visits, prescriptions, vision and hearing screenings, mental health and dental care. I would like to thank the Kids Healthcare Foundation and the Bethesda Ministries Community Development Center for hosting a Florida KidCare press conference and enrollment event during their Community Survival Day on Aug. 18 at the center. Six families received Florida KidCare application assistance, and more than 100 individuals learned more about the Florida KidCare program.
Florida Covering Kids & Families works collaboratively with Florida agencies and stakeholders to advocate and conduct outreach for Florida KidCare. The initiative aims to foster and facilitate innovative methods for enrolling and retaining eligible children in Florida's publicly funded insurance programs. The Kids Healthcare Foundation and the Pinellas County Florida KidCare Coalition are made up of stakeholders within your community who are committed to ensuring that every child in Pinellas and Hillsborough has access to affordable care and that every child has a medical home. Pinellas and Hillsborough families that would like to learn more about Florida KidCare should call the Kids Healthcare Foundation at 813-428-4653 or the Pinellas County Florida KidCare Coalition at 727-507-6330 to ask questions about the program. You will also find someone who will be happy to help begin the enrollment process. Jodi Ray Tampa

The writer is project director for Florida Covering Kids & Families at the University of South Florida College of Public Health-Chiles Center.
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