$18 million grant allows UF to expand children’s health insurance program


Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 2:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 2:28 p.m.

More sick children in low-income families throughout Florida will have access to health care through a grant provided to a program at the University of Florida.

UF’s Pediatric Integrated Care, or Ped-I-Care program, has received a three-year, $18 million contract to provide health insurance to children with complex medical needs in 51 of Florida’s 67 counties.

The grant, from the Florida Department of Health, more than doubles the number of counties the Ped-I-Care program has served since 2003.

Nancy Giunta, Ped-I-Care executive director, said the grant money will help them reach children who might otherwise fall through the cracks. They come from families who are between 100 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level and do not qualify for Medicaid.

The children have multiple medical conditions that are often chronic or serious, Giunta added.

She said she anticipates that on Nov. 1, when the contract takes effect, at least 15,000 new children will qualify for Ped-I-Care services.

That number could rise to 50,000 in the next nine months, during statewide Medicaid reform and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Giunta added.

“Many of our principles are included in the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “We believe in patient-centered care and care coordination. There is a nurse who coordinates their care who is making sure they are getting their meds. This is very much a part of health care reform.”

Dr. John Nackashi, a UF pediatrician and the medical director of Ped-I-Care, added, “We hope in a year we’ll even be larger than that, but this is the beginning.”

Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119, or kristine.crane@gvillesun.com.

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