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Child Watch® Column: "Elect Susie"

Release Date: March 2, 2007

Marian Wright Edelman

On February 27, another candidate joined the ranks of those running for the office of President of the United States. The candidate has a platform focused on one issue—health coverage for all children this year.

The candidate is ten-year-old Susie Flynn.

She may be young, but she knows her numbers: Congress can provide health insurance to all children in the United States for the equivalent of 16 days of military spending, 3 1/2 months in Iraq, or 5 1/2 months of the tax cuts to the richest one percent of all Americans.  There are more than nine million children in the United States who are currently without health insurance.  The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) and Susie believe that our elected officials are not doing enough to solve the problem. As a result, CDF announced the launch of "Elect Susie" to build awareness of the child health crisis and of CDF's proposal to provide all children in America health insurance.

"Elect Susie" is a fictional presidential political campaign featuring "Susie Flynn," a 10-year-old girl who intends to make everyone in America aware of children's health needs so that they will no longer be ignored or responded to in a piece-meal fashion. Susie is also delivering an ultimatum: Find a solution now or she will take matters into her own hands by running for President.

As her campaign literature says, "Children cannot take care of themselves, and they have no power to influence change. Here's why you should use your vote to get children the health insurance they deserve: 

"More than nine million children in the United States—one in nine—have no health insurance coverage. Every 46 seconds, another baby is born uninsured.  It costs less to provide health insurance coverage to children than to any other group of people. The majority of uninsured children live in two-parent households and almost 90 percent live in families where at least one parent works. Increases in private health insurance costs are dramatically outpacing increases in wages.  Ensuring that children have timely, affordable access to health care is a smart economic move. For instance, enrolling uninsured children in health coverage significantly reduces hospitalizations for preventable illnesses. Uninsured children are more than five times as likely as insured children to have gone more than two years without a doctor visit.  What the United States spends on health care per person is more than twice the average spent in industrialized countries, yet we rank near the bottom among those nations in infant mortality rates. Existing health care programs for low-income children vary widely, with different standards for eligibility, cost sharing, and benefits in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Americans over 65 have access to health coverage under the Medicare program regardless of income, but children have no such guarantee, leaving millions of needy children without timely access to critical health and mental health services."

Visit Susie's campaign Web site, electsusie.com, to learn more about Susie's campaign and how you can support it and get involved; get the facts about the more than nine million uninsured children in the U.S.; read real stories of children living without health insurance; and watch Susie's campaign ads and view photos of her on the campaign trail.  This is a campaign all Americans should get behind.  As Susie's campaign announcement says, "These children have been let down, yet the people accountable are doing too little to solve it... Under your next President, every child in America must get the health insurance he or she deserves."