OSCEOLA COUNTY -- The Children's Special Health Care Services (CSHCS) program provides assistance and support to person's birth to 21 years of age who have a chronic medical condition that requires regular care by a doctor.

The CSHCS program helps to pay medical costs related to the child's medical diagnosis. Examples of medical conditions that are often covered include kidney disease, birth defects, cystic fibrosis, cleft palate/lip, and cancer.

Clients with cystic fibrosis or certain blood clotting disorders can be enrolled in the program for their entire life. There are more than 2,700 medical conditions that can qualify a child for the CSHCS program.

The staff at Central Michigan District Health Department (CMDHD) have made it a goal to provide CSHCS education to families and doctors so that the community can better understand the program and its benefits.

There are no income limits to this program; however, there may be a co-pay or payment plan for some families with higher incomes.

Families with private health insurance are also eligible for CSHCS.

Families may apply for the program after a child has received a medical diagnosis and been found eligible through a physician review of their medical history.

This is what a mother of a CSHCS client had to say about the program:

"I just want to take the time to express how this program has helped my family. The health care system is not easy to understand and it seems the rules change all the time. Without this program to help navigate the system, I would be lost.

"I can call my health department and they either know the answer or are able to get me the answer within a short time. They are someone who can help you figure out how to get help paying for services needed.

"These children have special medical conditions that require families to be constantly visiting doctors, getting equipment, and to just learn to survive the day. Doctors' offices do not help get finances around nor do they walk you through a complicated system.

"Taking care of special needs children often require all the energy and time a family has. The utter frustration of dealing with insurance companies would result in these children not getting all they need if not for this wonderful program.

"When my son was born with problems my emotional state was up and down but the staff from the health department have been there for me. I feel secure in knowing that if I need anything they will be able to help me."

Once a child is enrolled, CSHCS local office staff can help to provide:

• Assistance in obtaining reimbursement for travel and lodging when visiting out-of-town doctors

• Help with finding specialty physicians, hospitals, and services specific to the child's diagnosis

• Help with services for children with special needs that cannot be provided by other state funded programs

• Care Coordination, Support groups, and Community-based services

• Help to find resources specific to the family needs

• Education regarding the CSHCS medical condition

• Planning the transition of young people to adult health care

CSHCS is administered by the State of Michigan, with local representatives assigned for each county health department.

For more information, please visit michigan.gov/cshcs or call the CSHCS Family Center Phone Line at (800) 359-3722.

Central Michigan District Health Department serves the counties of Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Osceola, and Roscommon.

For more information, visit cmdhd.org or call your local CMDHD branch office for more information.

Arenac County: (989) 846-6541

Isabella County: (989) 773-5921

Clare County: (989) 539-6731

Osceola County: (231) 832-5532

Gladwin County: (989) 426-9431

Roscommon County: (989) 366-9166

Like Central Michigan District Health Department on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @CMiDHD.