June 29, 2012

Healthy kids mean better students, communities

The State newspaper recently published the following letter to the editor from Matt Shaffer, who is the board chair of Healthy Learners and senior vice president of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina:

Healthy kids mean better students, communities

As we debate how best to support our community for growth and prosperity, we often overlook assets that are doing just that — working to build thriving, healthy communities. Nonprofits such as Healthy Learners work to bring about real solutions and are integral to our community’s future.

In partnership with school districts, school nurses and health-care providers, Healthy Learners provides children with access and transportation to doctor visits, dental services, vision services and mental-health services.

There are barriers to health care beyond coverage and cost. For example, both parents in many low-income families have jobs they cannot leave or do not have reliable transportation to drive their children to medical appointments. In some rural communities, there may not even be a pediatrician. Healthy Learners helps to remove these barriers.

Our state and our local communities must increase their support of programs such as Healthy Learners that help to improve children’s ability to learn, and thus their school performance. Healthy Learners supports the work that the state is doing to direct eligible children for enrollment or re-enrollment into Medicaid. Investments in children’s healthy development have a positive long-term impact on their growth and ability to contribute to our community as adults. By providing a cost-effective alternative to the emergency department, Healthy Learners helps the state save money, while ensuring access to critical health services to our children.

There is no other organization that does what Healthy Learners is doing for South Carolina: working to ensure we have healthy children, better students and thriving S.C. communities. I urge the state and our local lawmakers to look at Healthy Learners to see how it can support these best practices that will build our state’s future workforce.

Matt Shaffer
Board Chair, Healthy Learners
Senior Vice President
BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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