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Lofty Expansion Plan for Children’s Health Initiative

They’ve added a “C.” But that’s not the only change.

The successful not-for-profit Children’s Health Initiative (CHI) has changed its name and has now become California Coverage & Health Initiatives. The shift is an ambitious one.

“Originally the CHIs were local efforts to reach universal coverage for kids in a county or group of counties,” CCHI executive director Suzie Shupe said. “And we do have a pretty good track record of helping families access care, and keep them retained.”

Now CCHI wants to expand that work to all counties, and to include adults.

“With the new landscape under the ACA (Affordable Care Act), we want to significantly expand the population of who we’re going to get involved,” Shupe said. “We want to connect or refer families to multiple programs and benefits. We just felt, why not get them enrolled in everything we can get them enrolled in?”

The original network of locations for the Children’s Health Initiative came about bit by bit, Shupe said, serving counties that most needed the service. That left many rural counties out of the network — and that’s a population that could really use the expertise picked up over the years by CCHI staffers.

“We have sort of a fragmented system in California, it’s not even a system really, there are no standards across all of these entities,” Shupe said. “This is what CCHI thinks needs to be connected. We need to bring them into a statewide network, to collect data, so that when 2014 comes along, there’s a whole workforce of people who have been doing this work.”

The exact details are still being worked out and funding is still being secured, Shupe said, but the eligibility and enrollment task under the federal health reform law is a monumental one, and she thinks CCHI could be a big help to the state.

“There’s a lot of education that needs to happen, a lot of training is needed for folks who are moving people into coverage,” Shupe said. “You’ll need to know how to train all of those people.”

The new reach of CCHI needs to include adults as well as children, Shupe said. That approach is part of the original CHI mission to help children get care. “We have to enroll the eligible adults,” she said. “By reaching those families, that’s how we’re going to reach the kids.”

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