SignUpNow Outreach
Communities Connecting Kids with Health Coverage 
Fall 2012

Welcome to the Fall edition of the SignUpNow Outreach eNewsletter. SignUpNow (SUN) is an initiative of the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) that is focused on increasing enrollment of eligible uninsured children in Virginia's FAMIS programs.  Please forward this newsletter to colleagues and encourage them to register via the "Join Our Mailing List" button to receive the SignUpNow Outreach eNewsletter themselves.

In This Issue
SignUpNow is on the Road Again!
Teen Health Week
Plan First Enrollment Continues to Rise
Dental Problems Affect School Performance
Faces and Facts

SignUpNow (SUN) is on the Road Again!


SUN is on the road again! We will be conducting our free comprehensive workshop entitled "State-Sponsored Health Insurance for Children and Pregnant Women" on the following dates:


11/1 - Sentara Health Education Center, Virginia Beach

11/6 - Prince William Association of Realtors Building, Woodbridge

11/7 - James Madison University, Harrisonburg

11/13 -  Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Lynchburg


For more information about who should attend and registration links click here. Also, the twelfth edition of the SUN Tool Kit is available and can be downloaded. It includes updated information on the MCO expansions and the lifting of the 5 year bar for legally permanent residents.


If you are unable to attend any of the trainings, or you need a refresher, feel free to utilize the on-line training modules.

Teen Health Week - October 22-27, 2012


In Virginia, teens are more likely to be uninsured than younger children. There are approximately 66,000 uninsured teens in Virginia. About 34,000 of them live in households with incomes under 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, and are potentially eligible for coverage via the FAMIS programs ( Due to this disparity in coverage, the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) has established Teen Health Week to draw attention to the importance of FAMIS coverage for uninsured teens.


An emphasis for the 2012 campaign is on the use of technology. DMAS will be launching a new Twitter account that they will use to create an open dialog with teens during Teen Health Week, and which it plans to continue throughout the year. It will also create a special feature page on the FAMIS website prior to and throughout Teen Health Week, and will post statuses of particular interest to and about teens on Facebook.


In addition, DMAS is currently printing a Teen poster that will be distributed to middle and high schools statewide by School Health Coordinators with the help of the Department of Education. The poster, titled "Get Connected and Stay Connected to Great Health," will be available for order on the FAMIS website and is appropriate for display throughout the year. It is in English and Spanish and features Quick Response codes (QR) that can be scanned on a smart phone to link directly with the FAMIS website. The poster is underwritten with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Maximizing Enrollment grant.


DMAS is also hosting a Teen Health event at SCOR (Sports Center of Richmond) on October 27th focused on "Fitness, Food, and FAMIS" to promote exercise, nutrition and health insurance as essential elements for a "healthy teen." Virginia Commonwealth University Athletics will provide prizes, activities, guest appearances and demonstrations, and DMAS is actively pursuing other vendors and partners to make this a great event for teens around Richmond.


Teen Health Week offers a perfect opportunity to promote and educate teens about FAMIS and to re-energize efforts to get them enrolled.


What can you do to promote to teens in your locality? For more information on how to get involved during Teen Health Week, Please contact Shelagh Greenwood at or call 804-786-0166.

Plan First Enrollment Continues to Rise

Plan First is Virginia's Medicaid family planning program that covers important family planning services and birth control delivered by participating Medicaid providers at no cost to the member.


Thanks to statewide marketing, education and other efforts, Plan First enrollment increased from 8,759 in October 2011 to 30,661 in September 2012. The increase in enrollment is also due in part to the program's transition last October from a Medicaid waiver program to the state Medicaid plan, which resulted in expanded eligibility criteria.


Despite these improvements, there are still thousands of eligible Virginians who could benefit from Plan First covered services, including women and men whose household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, but who don't qualify for full benefit Medicaid or FAMIS. They must be U.S. citizens or legal residents who live in Virginia. Having a private insurance policy does not exclude individuals from enrolling, and may be helpful for those with policies containing high deductibles or policies that don't cover family planning services.

Plan First is also an option for Medicaid for Pregnant Women and FAMIS MOMS enrollees who have recently delivered, are about to lose coverage and are interested in receiving family planning services. New brochures, as well as applications and posters in English and Spanish, are now available at


You can also get more in-depth training on Plan First by visiting the Virginia Home Visiting Consortium website. For specific questions, please contact Peggy Brown Paviour, Plan First Coordinator at the Virginia Department of Health:

Dental Problems Affect School Performance
Source: Pew Charitable Trust 

Tooth decay can have far-reaching effects on a child's life. Untreated decay can cause pain and infection that may lead to difficulty eating, speaking, socializing and sleeping, as well as poor overall health. Dental problems also negatively affect school attendance and performance.


In California alone, an estimated 504,000 children missed at least one school day in 2007 due to a toothache or other oral health concern. A 2011 study in North Carolina found that students with poor dental health were nearly three times more likely than their healthy peers to miss school due to dental pain. These absences were also linked to weaker academic performance.


A new study provides additional evidence of the connection between dental health and school performance. Researchers examined nearly 1,500 disadvantaged students in the Los Angeles public schools, matching their oral health status to both their academic achievement and attendance records. Children who reported having recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low grade-point average-below the median GPA of 2.8-when compared to children who had not had dental pain.


This should concern parents and policymakers because the last national survey showed that roughly one out of nine children aged 9-11 have untreated decay in their permanent teeth. In addition, children with dental problems are more likely to have poor oral health as adults, which can hinder their job prospects.


Fortunately, in Virginia, we have Smiles for Children, which provides dental services to children enrolled in the FAMIS programs. As you work throughout the Commonwealth to assist families with the FAMIS application and enrollment process, please make sure that they are aware of the dental benefits that come with that coverage. If they have questions about which services are covered, which doctors accept FAMIS or for assistance finding a provider, they can call Smiles for Children at 888-912-3456.

Faces and Facts  

A Project Connect Outreach Worker recently received a panicked call from the father of a 3 year old boy who has significant vision issues. The child was in need of immediate surgery to help save his eyesight. Although the child was covered by a COBRA policy, the specialist suddenly required $3,000 up front when the surgery was just days away. The family didn't have the money. The father, who had lost his job, had only found a part-time position to replace it, and the grand parents had already dipped into their retirement savings to pay for the COBRA coverage. Desperate for help, the family found the local Project Connect Outreach Worker on a FAMIS brochure in a doctor's office.


The Outreach Worker assessed the family's situation and helped them with the application for the FAMIS programs. Income-wise, it looked like they would likely be eligible for FAMIS Plus. Because the surgery was fast approaching, the Outreach Worker walked the application over to the local department of social services, and she explained the situation to the Eligibility Supervisor. Despite the fact that two Eligibility Workers were out, the Supervisor processed the application herself in less than 24 hours.


With the toddler enrolled in FAMIS Plus, the child was able to have the surgery at no cost to the family. The child is recovering and his eyesight has been restored.

 FAMIS Program Enrollment as of September 1, 2012:

  • 63,829 children are enrolled in FAMIS (including 337 in FAMIS Select);
  • 532,410 children are enrolled in FAMIS Plus (including the CHIP Medicaid Expansion);
  • 1,593 pregnant women are enrolled in FAMIS MOMS;
  • 16,566 pregnant women are enrolled in Medicaid for Pregnant Women; and
  • 29,160 men and women are enrolled in Plan First.
If you have colleagues who would benefit from receiving SignUpNow Outreach, please forward this email to them and encourage them to subscribe to our mailing list. We look forward to providing additional information on children's health insurance in the near future.

Polly Raible 
Join Our Mailing List
Our Sponsor
This newsletter is made possible with support from the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services
Quick Links