For Immediate Release
July 16, 2007
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WASHINGTON, D.C.- Children’s Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman today expressed disappointment in the Senate Finance Committee’s legislative mark that would leave millions of children without health insurance. Despite the bipartisan pledge earlier this year to provide $50 billion to improve and expand child health coverage, the Chairman’s mark increases funding by only $35 billion, does not require coverage of all medically necessary services, and does not include a number of important simplification measures that would ensure that eligible children get enrolled and stay enrolled. The Finance Committee’s package includes a number of positive steps to cover more uninsured children and pregnant women, recognizing that many working families at 300% of the federal poverty level often cannot afford to buy health insurance. However, the failure to provide the full $50 billion in funding for this critical children’s health program will leave millions of children behind.
“Why are we, in the richest nation on earth, even discussing which children should be covered and which will not?” said Edelman. “Congress made a bipartisan commitment to provide $50 billion to expand and improve SCHIP. The Senate has fallen far short of that, leaving millions of children without health coverage. The health of our children should not be held hostage to Washington politicsCongress needs to do what is right this year.”
Specifically, Edelman found significant omissions in the package. The package:
- Fails to improve the SCHIP benefit package so that all children and pregnant women are guaranteed comprehensive health coverage for all medically necessary services, regardless of where they live.
- Fails to include important simplifications such as automatic enrollment and 12-month continuous eligibility that would ensure children get covered and stay covered. Currently almost 6 million of the 9 million uninsured children in America are eligible for health coverage but are not enrolled.
- Fails to create a true national safety net for children by not establishing a reasonable minimum income eligibility for children across all 50 states.
“Children in this country should not be dependent on the lottery of geography to determine if they are or are not provided with health coverage,” said Edelman. “The long-term cost to society of not adequately investing in its children early in life is incalculable. It is appalling in this country that a child is born uninsured every 47 seconds, at greater risk of living sicker and dying sooner than an insured child.”
For more information on CDF’s campaign to provide health coverage to all children, please visit: www.childrensedefense.org/healthychild
For more information about the Children’s Defense Fund, visit www.childrensdefense.org.