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For Immediate Release
November 11, 2007
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Last night, Children's Defense Fund (CDF) President Marian Wright Edelman sent the following letter in response to reports that Congress is considering changes to recently passed State Children's Health Insurance program (SCHIP) reauthorization legislation that would reduce uninsured children's access to health coverage and harm existing state SCHIP programs. The letter was sent to the House leadership, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and outlines CDF's specific concerns regarding these possible changes.
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, and Chairman Emanuel:
I urge you to reject any negotiations that would further weaken the already compromised legislation to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). I am extremely concerned about recent news reports which suggest that SCHIP negotiators are considering changes that would reduce uninsured children’s access to health coverage and harm current SCHIP programs.
A five-year SCHIP reauthorization bill that would impede state efforts to expand coverage and increase enrollment in SCHIP and Medicaid is not in the best interest of children. The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) cannot support legislation that would take our nation in the wrong direction, away from the goal of ensuring that all of the more than 9 million uninsured children in America have comprehensive health coverage.
CDF has supported both previous versions of compromise SCHIP reauthorization legislation (HR 976 & HR 3963). However, children's lives are at stake and must not be politicized in an attempt to structure a veto-proof package that is not in the best interest of children. If your solution is to further reduce children's access to the health coverage they need to grow and thrive, it is time to end negotiations and take action to prevent states from dropping children from their SCHIP rolls actions that some are beginning to consider even now. Congress must enact an extension of SCHIP that includes funds necessary to preserve coverage of the more than 6.5 million children that are currently enrolled. Allowing thousands of currently insured children to lose their health coverage, while Congress bargains over which children deserve to be covered, would be morally reprehensible.
SCHIP reauthorization is just one step in the ongoing effort to ensure that all children in this country have affordable, accessible, comprehensive health coverage. We must work together to achieve this critical goal. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff to discuss our concerns about SCHIP negotiations or health coverage for children in more detail. You can reach my Policy Associate, Lindsey Wade at (202) 662-3575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marian Wright Edelman
For more information on CDF's campaign to provide health coverage to all children, please visit: www.childrensdefense.org/healthychild