While untold numbers of Southern Nevada parents stare at the spinning blue wheel on healthcare.gov’s homepage, Fred Schultz is looking to insure his kids the old-fashioned way: with a lot of people and a lot of paper.
Schultz’s Foundation for Positively Kids — the 14-year-old nonprofit created to provide care for medically fragile pediatric patients with autism, cerebral palsy and other genetic defects — recently won a $895,000 Obamacare-backed grant to help uninsured Clark County students sign up for low-income public health insurance programs such as Medicaid and Nevada Check Up.
Foundation CEO Schultz suspects his nonprofit was chosen for the task because of its already extensive work in three school-based area health care clinics, including one at North Las Vegas’ Martinez Elementary, where he and a handful of nonprofit staffers unveiled the new health insurance program Oct. 30.
Federal dollars provided to fund the nonprofit’s outreach efforts mandate the enrollment of 1,300 uninsured kids over the next two years.
Schultz, for one, isn’t worried about missing the mark.
“That’ll be easy,” Schultz said of the enrollment target a day before the program’s debut. “Eighty percent of the children at the clinics we run need to be on Medicaid.
“This is why we put together and applied for the $895,000 grant because we already see those kids, and now we have an opportunity to get them enrolled.”
Enrollment in state-administered public health insurance programs such as Medicaid is already available to many of the low-income students the foundation plans to target.
The problem, according to Schultz, is that most uninsured parents have no idea the programs exist. Those who do, he said, face a 60-page application packet that looks like Mandarin to most non-insurance professionals.
That’s where his team of 44 ex-social workers and outreach professionals comes in.
Positively Kids enrollment specialist Ray Reyes, one of those tasked with reaching out to some 30,000 parents and students through 45 area schools, said he plans to start out small.
Working with school principals at seven northeast-area schools, Reyes hopes to make sure the nonprofit’s insurance application packets at least make it into students’ backpacks.
If and when those packets make it off the school bus and onto parents’ coffee tables, he said, they just about sell themselves.
“It’s not real difficult to enroll students once parents trust you,” Reyes said. “Many times, there’s a language barrier, but I speak Spanish, so that helps with the trust factor. From there, the word spreads pretty quickly.
“We’re very excited about (the program). It feels good to help people, to let them know that they won’t have to worry about their kids’ health insurance anymore.”
Diana Flores, one of those already signed up for Medicaid through the program, took that endorsement a step further.
She and her two children, including one daughter in need of special optometry treatments, have gone without health insurance since moving from California last year.
Flores said if it weren’t for Positively Kids, they’d still be without it.
“It’s been really good for me,” Flores said. “I tried to apply for Medicaid myself, and they denied us. After that, my kids got sick, and I wouldn’t be able to take them anywhere.
“So now, even if I don’t qualify for (Medicaid), it’s good to know that the kids will get care as long as they’re enrolled.”
For more information on Positively Kids’ health insurance program, contact the foundation at 702-262-0037 or visit positivelykids.org.
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at 702-477-3839 or firstname.lastname@example.org.