Back-to-School Template Opinion-Editorial PUTTING HELP FOR UNINSURED KIDS ON THE BACK-TO-SCHOOL CHECKLIST The start of a new school year might be weeks away, but stores in our area are already filling the aisles with must-have lunch boxes and enough loose-leaf paper to spread to the moon. Store managers and stockers aren’t the only ones preparing for the new school year. Many parents are making checklists to be sure their child will head off to school ready to learn and thrive. One thing that probably won’t appear on many checklists is health insurance, but it should be at the top of every parent’s list. Unfortunately, too many children in our community will head back to school this year without the advantage of health care coverage. Because they are uninsured, they are therefore unable to access the care they need. Nationwide more than 9 million children have no health insurance. That’s more than the total number of kids enrolled in the first and second grades in U.S. public schools. Because they are uninsured, their parents are forced to gamble every day that their child won’t get sick or injured. In fact, uninsured children are twice as likely as insured children to miss out on needed care, including doctor visits and check ups. (Insert paragraph about your connection to the issue, including a personal story if possible. Are you a parent, an educator, a community leader or just a concerned citizen that sees a problem that needs to be address? Discuss the situation in your community and how children are being affected). Fortunately, for the past 11 years, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) – commonly known as [PROGRAM NAME] in [STATE] – has provided a safety net for many hard-working families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private coverage. The program successfully covers more than 7 million children who otherwise would be uninsured. Because of SCHIP, millions of kids can get regular check ups, take the medications they need and see a doctor when they are sick. Unfortunately, many parents of eligible children either don’t know about the program or mistakenly think they make too much money to qualify. Children in families of four earning up to $42,000 a year – or more – may qualify for low-cost or free health coverage As parents of uninsured kids get ready for the new school year, they should put calling 1(877) KIDS- NOW at the top of their back-to-school checklist. Operators can assist parents in finding out if their kids are eligible and in getting children enrolled. Low-cost or free health care coverage could be just a phone call away. All of us likely know a parent of an uninsured child. It might be our children or grandchildren, or the kids of people who provide services to us every day – cutting hair, caring for lawns, waiting on tables, serving as aides to elderly parents. All of us can help spread the word about these valuable insurance programs to the people who most need the information. Raising awareness of the program is a part of this month’s Cover the Uninsured Back-to-School Campaign which focuses on enrolling eligible kids in Medicaid and SCHIP. Cover the Uninsured is the largest mobilization in history to shine a national spotlight on the need to secure health coverage for all Americans. Led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this nonpartisan effort unites people from all walks of life and every point of view. It seems to me that cool notebooks and fun lunch boxes are worthless if a child can’t see the blackboard or focus on schoolwork because they are sick and missing needed care. Let’s do our part to make it a great school year for every child. ### [NAME OF AUTHOR] is [TITLE; ORGANIZATION].
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