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Families Often Miss Out On Free Care for Children

Programs that cover the costs of basic medical care are there for the asking for parents in low-income families whose children need it. Too often, however, aid is not requested.

According to the Urban Institute, of the estimated 8.2 million children who lacked health coverage at the beginning of 2002, 4.7 million are eligible for, but not enrolled in, Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

"The biggest challenge to enrollment is that too many families believe that they don't qualify," Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, told the Boston Globe. Lavizzo-Mourey is senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which paid for the study.

Many of these children live in Latino households whose parents fear that their applications for residency and citizenship would be denied. About 100 companies are working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in an intensive media campaign, launched Aug. 1, to get the word out to poor families about the availability of coverage.

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