Wilkes-Barre, Pa. – PA 211 Northeast, Lycoming County United Way, and Maternal and Family Health Services are collaborating to help uninsured Pa. children access free, or low-cost, insurance through Medicaid and CHIP.
Their new regional education program, a localized “211 Get Kids Covered” campaign, will encourage parents and caregivers to call their regional 211 provider for information about enrolling children in Medicare or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), if they do not have healthcare coverage through an employer-based family plan.
Residents of Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties can contact PA 211 Northeast, a free information and referral service provided by FSA, by dialing 211, texting 211 (898 211 and zip code), or logging on to PA 211 NE’s website.
Parents and caregivers who experience high call volume at regional 211 centers can also text INSUREKIDSNOW to 211-211 for necessary eligibility information and directions on how to enroll in the programs.
Additional information is also available.
“We provide essential programs for families with young children in Northeast Pennsylvania. Making sure children have access to a regular source of health care is a key component of our service to the community,” said Maria Montoro Edwards, Ph.D., president/CEO of MFHS, explaining her agency’s role in improving community health.
“Through the WIC Nutrition Program and the Nurse-Family Partnership Program, MFHS is a trusted resource for families in Luzerne County. We are often the first point of access for families in need of services for infants and young children, and we work in partnership with PA 211 Northeast to connect families to CHIP and other resources to improve overall health and wellness,” added Edwards.
Overall, Pennsylvania has the eighth highest number of uninsured children in the country with nearly 128,000 lacking coverage, according to a 2020 report by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.
“Lycoming County United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community,’’ said Ronald A. Frick, president and chief executive officer of Lycoming County United Way.
“Working with community partners, we mobilize the collective resources in our communities to strengthen families and change the lives of people. We accomplish this goal by assessing the needs of each community, generating resources, investing in programs, and measuring results,” Frick said.
“Every child in Pennsylvania should have health coverage and we are excited to partner with PA 211 NE on such an important community-outreach project that impacts many low-income children,’’ added Frick. “This campaign takes on an added layer of importance due to COVID-19 and the imminent return of students to classrooms over the next several weeks.’’
“211 Get Kids Covered” is a United Way Worldwide campaign that features local United Way agencies collaborating with providers of 211 services throughout the country.
Pennsylvania 211 oversees six regional 211 providers in the commonwealth, including PA 211 NE, which covers 17 counties in Northeastern and Northcentral Pa.
Tom Foley, right, director of PA 211 NE / Help Line services for Family Service Association of NEPA, speaks to WBRE-TV 28 report Mark Hiller at the press conference announcing the ‘Get Kids Covered’ awareness campaign.
“PA 211 NE is proud to play an integral role in helping parents and caregivers secure the healthcare coverage their children need to lead healthy lives,’’ said Janyne Gurnari, interim CEO of FSA.
“For more than 125 years, the Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania has worked to connect people to the health and human service programs they need to address challenging situations in their lives. Through community partnerships, like this one, we have been able to lessen the impact of those situations on the people and communities we aim to lift up,” Gurnari said.
Financial guidelines, state residency, citizenship, and age determine eligibility for Pennsylvania’s Medicaid Program. A family of four, for example, can earn up to $35,245 and may be eligible for coverage. The income limit increases to $41,284 for a family of five and continues to increase based on the size of the family.
Annual household income levels and eligibility requirements are different for the state’s CHIP Program. A family of four that earns $79,500, for example, but is ineligible for Pennsylvania’s Medicaid Program, may qualify if they meet certain criteria, such as age, state residency and citizenship status.
Overall, the benefit programs offer free or low-cost health insurance that covers doctor’s visits, well visits, hospital stays, prescriptions, vaccines and more. For complete information about coverage and eligibility, individuals may contact PA 211 NE by phone, text, or website.
United Way Worldwide launched the national campaign on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Local United Way agencies and FSA also will utilize social media platforms to provide information on how to enroll children in the state’s benefit programs. The local, regional and national campaigns will feature hashtags, such as #coveragematters, #healthykids, and #healthinsurance.
The public can also follow Lycoming County United Way (@LycomingCountyUnitedWay on Facebook, @LyCoUnitedWay on Twitter and @lycomingcountyunitedway on Instagram) and FSA (@FSANEPA on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) on each of their social media accounts to receive information and directions about enrolling in the benefit programs.
PA 211 NE operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 365 days a year. It is a safety-net service that connects people to information and referrals they need to address a large variety of services that address food, housing and financial insecurity, physical or mental health care, drug and alcohol detoxification or rehabilitation, crisis management, and much more.
PA 211 NE is available in 17 counties, including Bradford, Clinton, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne and Wyoming counties.
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