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Trusted Health Insurance Assistance in a Time of Declining Enrollment

On October 11, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security’s Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds rule was temporarily blocked by a federal court ruling, and as a result, the “public charge” rule has not gone into effect. Despite the current injunction, the proposed changes to the public charge rule has created an atmosphere of fear for immigrants around the country and in our local community.

With all the fear and uncertainty around the public charge rule, many Colorado families have been worried about renewing their children’s Health First Colorado (Medicaid) and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) health insurance. As result of the unfavorable atmosphere and other barriers, the number of uninsured children in the United States started to rise for the first time in decades between 2016 to 2018.

In uncertain times, having a trusted community navigator can make all the difference.  Care Coordinator Bobbi Garcia-Abrego works hard to serve that role for families at Kids First Health Care in Commerce City and Westminster, CO. Ms. Garcia-Abrego helps families navigate and troubleshoot the enrollment process for Medicaid and CHP+.   

“My main objective is to provide families with excellent and thorough service,” said Ms. Garcia-Abrego. “In the event that a family is denied for whatever reason, I will work through some of the barriers or issues that are preventing an eligible outcome.”

Ms. Garcia-Abrego offers one-on-one assistance with Medicaid and CHP+ applications by appointment. Families can make an appointment for application assistance by calling Kids First Health Care at 303-289-1086 (Commerce City) or 303-428-4384 (Westminster).  Kids First is a nonprofit pediatric clinic with no zip code boundaries, so anyone with children can call for an appointment and get help.

In addition to helping with Medicaid and CHP+ applications, Ms. Garcia-Abrego can help answer questions about the enrollment process and connect families with other resources for basic needs. As a part of Kids First’s integrated care team, she has also helped with tough medical situations. For instance, during a Medicaid appointment with a mother and her eight-year old daughter, Ms. Garcia-Abrego noticed the daughter was coughing a lot and struggling to breathe.

“Bobbi had asked the mom if her daughter was ok, and the mom had stated she hasn’t been able to take her to the doctor because of the lack of health insurance,” said Emily Human, Health Education Manager at Kids First.  “Once Bobbi finished the Medicaid application, she asked [Nurse Practitioner] Becky to squeeze her into the schedule that day. Becky was able to accommodate this need and immediately sent the child and mother down to Children’s ER, where the patient was admitted into the hospital for multiple days.”

The Kids First team was able to quickly handle an emergency situation while also eliminating barriers to medical care. While Kids First staff never wants to see a Medicaid appointment turn into an ER visit, the team is ready to handle serious medical situations as well as any insurance complications, if they occur.

About Kids First Health Care

Kids First Health Care is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of infants, children and youth. Established in 1978, Kids First opened the first school-based health center in Colorado and currently operates eight school-based health centers in Adams County. Kids First is a Certified Application Assistance and a Presumptive Eligibility site through the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.  Kids First also provides school nursing services in two school districts. For more information, visit kidsfirsthealthcare.org.


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