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Challenge grant aims to cover more ND kids

A program that provides private health coverage for uninsured children in North Dakota is getting a big boost from the Dakota Medical Foundation. But there's a catch: The foundation's $125,000 grant to the North Dakota Caring for Children program...

A program that provides private health coverage for uninsured children in North Dakota is getting a big boost from the Dakota Medical Foundation.

But there's a catch: The foundation's $125,000 grant to the North Dakota Caring for Children program comes with a $125,000 match requirement.

If the fundraising challenge is met, that would mean $250,000 in additional funding would be available to insure children who now fall through cracks in the system.

The Caring for Children program provides coverage for children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid or the Healthy Steps program, but not enough to afford private coverage.

If the fundraising goal is met within 10 months, the $250,000 would provide coverage for an additional 676 children - a big increase from the 1,289 children served last year by the program, which is administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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To meet its match requirement, Caring for Children will be seeking donations from individuals, service clubs, businesses and other foundations.

A donation of $369.60, or $30.80 per month, is enough to provide health coverage for one child for a year, said Lisa Faul, director of Caring for Children's director.

The program's eligibility guidelines include children whose guardians have an annual income of between 141 percent and 180 percent of the federal poverty level.

Dakota Medical Foundation, based in Fargo, has contributed $1.3 million to the Caring Program since 2002, said Deb Watne, the foundation's grants and programs manager.

"It's a program we are a very committed sponsor to," she said. "It provides direct access to health care to children who otherwise would fall through the cracks."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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