Wednesday, September 06, 2000

Program Opens Doors For Uninsured, Community & Youth Funding Report

Program Opens Doors For Uninsured
By Pamela Appea
Community & Youth Funding Report
Model Programs

El Paso, Texas. (CDP)—Border Vision Fronteriza, a federally subsidized health initiative in states bordering Mexico—Ariz., Calif., N.M. and Texas—has been helping poor children and families get health insurance since 1995.

In the past three years, Border Fronteriza has enrolled thousands of uninsured kids in the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid.

Between April-Sept. 1999, the program sought to enroll 4,500 children in CHIP and Medicaid, and enrolled 10, 325.

For 1998-1999, the program counts 14, 3000 “secure” enrollments: children who now are covered by either Medicaid or CHIP in all of the target states. As of June 30, the initiative has added 6,447 more children.

About 90 percent of the children and families that Border Fronteriza serves are Latino, many of whom are recent immigrants unfamiliar with the health insurance system.

“There is probably no other project in the country doing what Border Fronteriza is doing,” says Eva Moya, senior project coordinator for the initiative.

The initiative trains community health workers to talk with people about health care, encourage them to enroll their children in CHIP and Medicaid and provide step-by-step support services like Spanish-to-English translation.

:They reach people where they are—at their homes, their schools. They meet at the laundry shop and the community centers … to help the families navigate the complexities of the CHIP and Medicaid systems,” Moya says.

Community health workers follow up with their families so their children will continue to re-enroll. This is crucial to the long-term success of the program, she says.

“You can sign up all the people you want, but that’s not going to guarantee that they are going to use the service, that they know how to use the service,” Moya says.

Securing funding to sustain Border Fronteriza is the initiative’s biggest challenge, Moya says. Funding from the federal Health Resources & Services Admin—$410,00 this year—goes to Oct. 2001. All four states combined give $200,000. Private foundations help as well.

Moya adds more outreach and training of community workers is needed to inform “harder-to-reach” uninsured groups, such as migrant workers and the homeless.

“We live in four border states that have among the highest uninsured rates largely due to socioeconomic poverty,” Moya says. “We still have a long way to go.”

Info: Moya, 915/585-7612,

Originally Published September 6, 2000
Copyright 2000 for Community Development Publications