Massachusetts School Nurses Help Enroll Children in State Insurance Programs
School nurses in Massachusetts, in a partnership with the Division of Medical Assistance and the Department of Public Health, have launched a campaign to enroll uninsured families into two state health insurance programs: MassHealth, which includes the state's Medicaid and CHIP programs, and the Children's Medical Security Plan, which provides low-cost insurance to children who do not qualify for MassHealth programs. According to the Division of Medical Assistance, nurses in schools throughout the state have taken several steps to reach the parents of uninsured children, including placing an additional question on school forms asking whether children have health coverage, using the school meals program to inquire whether parents would like an application for state health programs, or finding "uninsured students through school registration and transfer forms that parents must complete." "Many families see the school nurse as a reliable and trusted source of health information and guidance. They are often the first person to treat an injury or assess an illness," Anne Sheetz, director of School Health Services of the Department of Public Health, said. "As someone who understands the importance of children's health to their overall development, this puts school nurses in a unique position to spread the word about MassHealth and CMSP and help families enroll," she added. School nurses have been "instrumental" in helping to raise the number of children with health insurance, according to the Division of Medical Assistance; a recent state report found Massachusetts has a 2.8% rate of uninsured children, down 3% from 1998 and lower than the 10% national rate (Division of Medical Assistance release, 11/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.