FIRC to help insure more children |

FIRC to help insure more children

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

DILLON ” The Family and Intercultural Resource Center is working to increase under- and uninsured Summit County families’ access to health care through grant money from the Colorado Health Foundation.

The $210,000 distributed over the next three years aims to increase childrens’ enrollment in Colorado’s Child Health Plan Plus, and to fill gaps for local health needs, said Rob Murphy, FIRC general assistance manager.

“Our county is pretty low for rate of enrollment based on eligibility,” Murphy said of CHP+.

He said only 40 percent of those eligible are enrolled in the plan, which helps children not eligible for Medicaid but whose families don’t have enough income to afford health insurance.

The finances are disbursed through a $4.5 million award to the 24-member Family Resource Center Association. The health foundation awarded the grant to identify barriers preventing families from receiving medical care and train advocates to help with obtainment.

FIRC program services director Imane Deininger said paperwork and timing involve numerous “loops you got to jump through” toward completing CHP+ enrollment. And many families aren’t native English speakers.

“We’ve found that a lot of people have had a difficult time navigating the system, so that’s why we’ve become a CHP+ application site ” to help people in not only getting enrolled but maintaining it,” she said.

The plan is available to children under 18 and pregnant women over 19. Applicants must be residents with a household income less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, according to

Deininger said FIRC will also work with the Summit Community Care Clinic, Summit Prevention Alliance and Summit County Health and Human Services to identify areas where it can further help.

Decreasing residents’ emergency room visits through increasing preventative care is among program goals.

“We’re not sure what it’s going to look like a year from now, we’re really taking precautions, baby steps, to make sure that we’re not rushing into it and missing something ” or re-doing something, which would be even worse,” Deininger said.

She said a gap already discovered is a lack of physicians who accept CHP+ and Medicaid.

“So this is a double-edged sword in some ways, because here we’re planning on enrolling more people … but what good is that if nobody’s going to accept it within the county?” she said.

Murphy said only a handful of physicians accept the plans locally.

In the county’s 2007 Public Needs Assessment, under- and uninsured low-income residents were cited as having the most difficulty in receiving adequate health care; participants saw the lack of access as a “very big issue.”

Deininger said FIRC has been in the county 23 years, that in 2001 its name was changed to incorporate “intercultural” because of “an influx of foreign-born residents.”

“Sevices weren’t reaching out to these newcomers and it was decided FIRC would take special care to reach out (to them),” she said.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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