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Nearly 200,000 Children May Be Falling Through the Cracks
Chicago, IL — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is helping fund a program aimed closing the large gap between the high number of Chicago Public School families who qualify for health insurance and other benefits but are not taking advantage of them.
BCBSIL is providing a $100,000 Community Partners Grant to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, or LISC, for its Healthy Communities program, an innovative way to bring information about benefits right to the neighborhoods where eligible families live, work and play.
LISC is partnering with the Chicago Department of Public Health, Chicago Public Schools and the Mayor's Office of the City of Chicago on this initiative. Chicago Public Schools estimates it has 52,000 students who may qualify for Medicaid and approximately 155,000 families who may qualify for SNAP, but are not enrolled. SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as Food Stamps.
To close that gap, LISC will choose three to five community-based organizations from its neighborhood network in areas with high numbers of uninsured students. Those groups will do direct outreach to an estimated 12,000 households to test the best ways to get families to participate in offered programs. Those results will shape the focus of a broader initiative aimed at enrolling uninsured residents in health insurance plans and promoting community dialogue around preventive care and healthy living.
"LISC Chicago is excited to partner with BCBS to bring health coverage opportunities and options to the families of Chicago," said Susana Vasquez, Executive Director LISC Chicago. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois has previously collaborated with LISC on PlayStreets, which closed Chicago city streets to traffic and offered healthy activities for families right on the blocks where they live.
"Because this campaign will leverage the existing relationships between community organizations and residents, we believe LISC is perfectly suited to help us further our shared goal to build stronger and healthier communities in Chicago and across the state," said Donna Gerber, VP of Community Investment for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. "We both recognize that forming healthy communities involves understanding and addressing the broad range of social and economic determinants that ultimately determine the health of individuals, families and communities."
The $100,000 award to LISC is part of almost $3,000,000 in grants that Blue Cross and Blue Shield is donating across the state in fiscal year 2014. Those dollars go to health and human service organizations that provide direct services to under-served Illinois communities in the areas of increasing access to health care, decreasing care fragmentation, improving health literacy, addressing health disparities and enhancing the capacity to successfully implement health system reform.