February 28, 2012

Announcement of Senate Bill to Continue F2F HIC Funding


UNITED STATES SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 24, 2012


CONTACTS:
Menendez Press Office 202-224-4744

 

Menendez Advocates for Children's Health Care

Bill will provide necessary resources, services for families with sick children

Washington D.C.- Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Family-to-Family (F2F) Health Information Resource Center Extension Act which provides the families of children with special health care needs with assistance in navigating this complex array of services.

"As a parent, I know that when a child is sick, you want to do everything possible to care for her," said Senator Menendez. "It is my hope that this bill will help to alleviate some of the burden put on families caring for children with special health needs.  The F2F Health Information Resource Center Extension Act will be an invaluable tool for families navigating what can be a confusing system."

Dr. Sophie Arao-Nguyen, Executive Director of National Family Voices said:  "Family-to-Family Health Information Centers provide essential services and support to help families of children and youth with special health care needs navigate the complex, ever-changing health care system to access necessary, affordable, culturally-appropriate health care services.  This vital assistance saves government dollars in the long run, because the children need less expensive emergency and hospital care if they receive appropriate support and preventive services on the front end."

Diana Autin, Co Director of the NJ F2F at the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) released the following: "The Family-to-Family funding allows us to help parents navigate a complicated health insurance system. These parents are looking for an advocate for their children and themselves during a scary time. Family-to-Family helps to bring the issues and concerns of families to the forefront."

There are roughly 11 million children with special health care needs throughout the country, accounting for more than one in every five American households.  For these families, 38 percent of whom do not have adequate insurance coverage to help with the costs of the care their child needs, seeking appropriate health care and educational services is a difficult and confusing process.  The web of available services - provided though private insurance, Medicaid, SCHIP, the school system, or other social service organizations - is complex to navigate and often involves multiple different eligibility criteria and coverage standards.  As such, many families forgo critical health and educational services because they are unable to access them properly or simply do not know the services are available to them.

Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2F HICs) provide the families of children with special health care needs with assistance in navigating this complex array of services.  F2F HICs are staffed by both health care professionals and family members of children with special health care needs with extensive experience and training in navigating public and private health care systems.  There is currently an F2F HIC in every state and the District of Columbia.  The program is currently funded at $5 million a year, with individual, competitively awarded grants averaging about $95,700.  Even with this limited funding, the F2F HICs have assisted 940,000 families and trained 428,000 health professionals nationwide.

Specifically, F2F HICs provide the following services:

  • Assist families of children with disabilities or special health care needs in making informed choices about health care so as to promote good treatment decisions, cost-effectiveness, and improved health outcomes for their children;
  • Provide information regarding the health care needs of, and resources available for children with disabilities or special health care needs;
  • Identify successful health delivery models;
  • Develop a model for collaboration between families of children with special health care needs and health care professionals;
  • Provide training and guidance for children with special health needs and their families;
  • Conduct outreach activities to the families of children with special health care needs, health professionals, schools, and other appropriate organizations to foster cooperation and access to services.

The F2F bill is a simple three year extension of the F2F centers. New Jersey has one of the nation's leading F2Fs. This bill provides a flat funded (at $5 million/year), 3 year extension.  The funding is currently set to expire at the end of the fiscal year.  Senators Snowe, Bingaman, Conrad, Whitehouse and Lautenberg are sponsors.

###