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National Civil Rights Groups Join Forces in Call for Action to Strengthen the Health of the Nation’s Children

For Immediate Release
April 17, 2009

 

AAJC
 
CDF
NAACP
NCAI
NCLR

 

WASHINGTON, DC - Commemorating National Minority Health Month, today, leading civil rights groups, including the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI),  and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), announced their partnership during a briefing on Capitol Hill to outline how to realize America’s promise of covering all children, ensuring that the millions of uninsured and underinsured children are not forgotten during the health care reform debate.  The groups were joined by Neera Tanden, Counselor for Health Reform in the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services where she is working on the President’s health care reform plan.

"Asian American children are largely from first and second generation immigrant families and have an uninsured rate of nearly 12%," said Vincent A. Eng, deputy director of the Asian American Justice Center.  "Linguistic isolation has a significant effect on the access and quality of health care that Asian American children and pregnant women receive and working toward a system that is affordable, comprehensive, and equitable is of the utmost importance."

"Although the President and Congress took a huge step forward this year by expanding CHIP, Serious flaws within the system leave 5-6 million children uninsured and millions more underinsured," said CDF President, Marian Wright Edelman. "The organizations in our coalition share a history of standing up for the voiceless, and this year the voice for children’s health in America will be loud and clear."

"One of the greatest injustices for any family is not to have healthcare for their children.  We are a better nation than one that forces a mother to choose between a doctor for her sick child and paying rent.  President Obama has made a first installment on addressing the crisis of 9 million uninsured children by extending the SCHIP program this year.  But it’s only a first step.  Most American children are insured through their parents’ employment.  The old saying when the country catches a cold, black people catch the flu applies here.  For African American communities, suffering under the yoke of double digit unemployment --twice the rate of whites; the crisis is already catastrophic.  We need a healthcare system in American that provides quality, comprehensive care for all America’s children regardless of the whims of our economy," stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.

"The health, well-being, and success of Native American children are central to Native communities and cultures," said NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Johnson Pata. "Yet many children in our communities only see a doctor in an emergency room visit. In order to raise healthy children, our communities need access to comprehensive quality health care delivered in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner. We stand strong with this coalition to ensure we all are part if this important debate and urge Congress to act on this year to include every child in America in health care coverage."

"For far too long, children and families have suffered because this country has failed to provide a basic need – access to affordable, quality health care," stated Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza. "The health care system must be changed and address the deep-seated inequities that threaten to hold back this generation of children by causing illnesses that could have been prevented and, in the worst cases, premature death."

Despite the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program’s (CHIP) that went into effect this month, an estimated 5-6 million children will still remain uninsured.  This new coalition of civil rights leaders is urging Congress to pass legislation this year that will ensure every child and pregnant woman in America is provided access to comprehensive, affordable health coverage. The organizations have committed to focus their lobbying and grassroots efforts around advocacy for covering all children as part of national health care reform.

The coalition is urging that health care reform legislation must incorporate the following in order to make President Obama’s promise of coverage for all children in America a reality in 2009:

  • Coverage Must Be Affordable: Establish a national eligibility floor of 300 percent of the federal poverty level for all children and pregnant women, with an affordable sliding scale buy-in above that level.
  • Children and Pregnant Women Must Have Access to Comprehensive Benefits: Guarantee every child and pregnant woman timely access to all medically necessary services and products to maximize health and development with:
    • Emphasis on prevention and early detection and treatment.
    • No pre-existing condition exclusion or waiting period.
    • Appropriate post-partum coverage.
    • High quality, age-appropriate services from providers in their communities.
    • Culturally and linguistically appropriate services to ensure families receive the care for which they are eligible.
    • Protection of access to care regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin.
  • The System Must Be Simple, Seamless and Equitable: To ensure children get enrolled and stay enrolled, the following are necessary:
    • Short, simple, understandable application – Form must be uniformly used and barriers such as asset tests, waiting lists, and other barriers that delay or limit enrollment must be prohibited.
    • Automatic enrollment – All opportunities to identify and enroll children should be utilized, including at birth, enrollment in school, participation in child-serving programs and in health settings.
    • Presumptive eligibility – An uninsured child should be presumed eligible for coverage at point of service.
    • 12-month continuous enrollment with automatic renewal – Children’s coverage should be guaranteed for a full year regardless of family income changes; renewal  processes, including verification of income, must utilize all available technology to minimize burdens on families.
AAJC: Leonie Campbell Williams
lcampbell@AdvancingEquality.org
(202) 492-4591

CDF: Ed Shelleby
eshelleby@childrensdefense.org
(202) 662-3602

 
NAACP: Chris Fleming
cfleming@naacpnet.org
(202) 463-2650 ext. 1021
NCAI: Adam McMullin
amcmullin@ncai.org
(202) 466-7767
NCLR: Jackeline Stewart
jstewart@nclr.org
(202) 785-1670

 

 

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