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Roberta Riportella, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage continues to be a growing concern around the country. Between 2000 and 2009 there were 7.3 million fewer individuals with employer-provided health insurance. Some are able to purchase insurance in the private market, others enroll in state-offered Medicaid or SCHIP public health insurance programs, yet many remain uninsured. From 2000 to 2009, the number of uninsured rose from over 35 million to nearly 50 million. Studies demonstrate that health coverage promotes increased access to health care and positive health status, is more cost-effective, and even translates to better educational outcomes for children.
In Wisconsin, many adults and nearly all children who are uninsured are eligible for the state’s BadgerCare+ program. Most are aware of the program, but eligibility misconceptions, stigma, confusion stemming from ongoing program changes and bureaucracy, and lack of access to knowledgeable application assistance deter BadgerCare+ enrollment.
In 2007, Covering Kids & Families-Wisconsin, a coalition housed at University of Wisconsin-Madison began collaborating with public schools, Extension and other state partners to create a model for helping families more ably navigate these barriers within the school environment. Project evaluation reveals the critical need for bolstering school staff BadgerCare+ knowledge and integrating them into existing local and statewide networks through which program information and assistance can be supported. BadgerCare+ trainings, a toolbox of promotional materials, fact sheets, and resources, and the connection to knowledgeable assistance in the community make it less intimidating for school staff to stay up-to-date given the ever evolving nature of Medicaid/SCHIP and expected health insurance Exchanges under health reform.
This session will provide attendees with information about the project, perspectives from Extension faculty involved about their roles and the benefits to them , and the ways in which Extension personnel can initiate similar collaborations in their communities.
10th–12th April 2012