Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

NEWS RELEASE
August 1, 2002
CONTACT: Noelle Van der Tuin
Phone: (956) 565-0002, Cellular: (313) 623-7579

Local Organizations Work Together to Send Valley Children to School with Health Insurance

The Children's Health Coalition of the Rio Grande Valley kicked off week-long campaign today to enroll eligible children in CHIP and Children's Medicaid and spread the word about eligibility.

(Weslaco, Texas) Migrant Health Promotion and The Children's Health Coalition launched the annual Covering Kids Back-to-School Campaign today at the Boy's and Girl's Club of Weslaco. Community-based organizations, schools, businesses, and community members organized a week of enrollment events to help children in the Valley start the school year with health care coverage, check-ups, immunizations, and other important services for a healthy school year.

"Thousands of children in the Rio Grande Valley are eligible for low-cost or no-cost health insurance, but their parents don't know they're eligible," said State Senator Eddie Lucio. "Parents should make health insurance a priority along with immunizations and school supplies this year in order to send children back to school for a healthy and productive year."

The Children's Health Coalition and its member agencies will host 20 events throughout Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr, Webb, and San Patricio Counties between August 1 and August 8, 2002. Events will take place at the Tax Free Weekend at Payless Shoe Stores, at school enrollment days throughout the Valley, at immunization and health fairs, and at Operation Lone Star. At the events, families can learn about their children's CHIP or Medicaid eligibility, complete a simple enrollment application, and get information about the benefits of health coverage.

Graciela Camarena, a mother of two boys, used to worry about paying for her sons' emergency treatments for asthma. Although she and her husband both worked, they could not pay the expensive premiums for private insurance. Mrs. Camarena's family struggled to get basic treatment for her sons. After a period in which the family could not bring the boys for regular preventive care, a relatively small health problem led to the hospitalization of one of Mrs. Camarena's sons. As soon as Mrs. Camarena learned of her family's potential eligibility for CHIP, she applied. Now that her sons have insurance coverage with CHIP, Mrs. Camarena can bring her sons to the family's doctor at the first sign of illness. This prevents small problems with allergies from turning into medical emergencies later on. In her efforts to help other parents who have to choose between check-ups for children or paying a utility bill, Mrs. Camarena appeals to each family to attend a Back-to-School enrollment event or call 1-800-647-6558 in order to obtain health insurance for their children.

"Enrolling children in CHIP or Medicaid is the best step a parent can take," says Graciela Camarena. "The application process is very easy, and families pay low premiums and co-pays - despite the high cost of health care in the Valley. The premiums are worth the peace of mind that comes with regular check-ups, immunizations, and a doctor who knows my boys."

Migrant Health Promotion founded The Children's Health Coalition of the Rio Grande Valley as part of the Covering Kids Initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Twenty-two community-based organizations, school-based organizations, legal service providers, government agencies, businesses, along with local families, make up the Coalition. Its mission is to improve access to health care for children through community partnerships, education, and grassroots advocacy campaigns. For more information about the Children's Health Coalition and its member organizations, please contact Noelle Van der Tuin at Migrant Health Promotion, (956) 565.0002 Fax: (956) 565-0136 Email: chcrgv@hotmail.com.

Migrant Health Promotion is a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the capacity of farmworker families and their communities. The organization's Camp Health Aide, or Promotora de Salud, Program Models are nationally recognized as culturally appropriate, effective approaches to increasing health care access.

For a complete press kit including event information, contact names, and details about CHIP and Medicaid eligibility, please contact Noelle Van der Tuin at Migrant Health Promotion, (956) 565-0002, Fax: (956) 565-0136, Email: chcrgv@hotmail.com.

Top