Schools: Playing an Important Role in Outreach, Enrollment, and Access to Care

By Carol Backstrom, Principal and Director, Delivery System Transformation

Back-to-school often means new clothes, a new backpack, and new school supplies. Schools also play an important role when it comes to children’s health. As the new school year begins, it’s a good time to remind ourselves how schools can help with outreach and enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) in order keep students healthy, strong, and ready to learn.

In 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched an outreach and enrollment campaign –Connecting Kids to Coverage – funded through the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) and the Affordable Care Act. The goals of the campaign include:

  • Raising awareness about health coverage available for kids and teens,
  • Assisting parents in getting kids enrolled in health coverage, and
  • Providing toolkits and materials to states, schools, community organizations, and health care providers to conduct outreach activities.

More information and resources can be found on, including Back-to-School Outreach and School-Based Outreach materials. The best news, of course, is that the Connecting Kids to Coverage campaign makes these materials available at no cost.  The uninsured rate among children is at an all-time low, but there is still more work to be done.

Schools also play a key role in making sure kids are healthy and ready to learn. School-based health centers and school nurses not only respond to immediate medical needs, but they can also provide a variety of health care services that kids might not otherwise have access to. Harbage Consulting has worked with the California School-Based Health Alliance to assist schools in accessing Medicaid and CHIP reimbursement to enable them to sustain and expand health services, as outlined in two recent publications —  Policy Considerations for California Following the 2014 Reversal of the Medicaid “Free Care Rule and Enhancing Services for Students: California Local Education Agency Medi-Cal Reinvestments.

Another important role for schools is to provide vision and hearing screenings for students. Harbage Consulting is proud to work with the Baltimore City Health Department and Vision for Baltimore to provide vision screenings to all 60,000 pre-K through 8th graders attending Baltimore City schools. Thanks to strong academic and corporate partners, Vision for Baltimore is able to provide glasses at no cost to any child who needs them, setting kids on a solid path for learning. Check out a recent Politico Magazine article about how glasses are improving test scores in Baltimore.

Harbage Consulting wishes you all a happy and healthy school year!