RELEASE: Pass and Expand State Children’s Health Insurance Now
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WASHINGTON, DC— SCHIP has been on life support since the fall of 2007, during the nation’s worst economic slump since the Great Depression when families needed it most. Congress’ inability to move forward on this issue has not been because it doesn’t know how to protect children; it does. Rather, the failure has been political. The House and Senate passed a similar bill in September 2007 and again in November 2007 only to have them vetoed by President Bush. Since then funding has not kept pace with demand for the program.
As a result, more children have joined the ranks of the uninsured, spurred by increasing unemployment and loss of employer-provided health insurance. At the same time, contracting state budgets have led to funding and coverage cuts and the tightening of eligibility requirements for Medicaid and SCHIP.
The House of Representatives is about to pass a long-awaited and badly needed reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program with broad bipartisan support. This proposal would guarantee continued coverage for 6.7 million children, and add protection for 3.9 million more.
The numbers below show just how much need exists for the program and its expansion to cover more kids.
The economy has soured.
7.2 percent: The unemployment rate in December 2008.
2.6 million: The number of Americans who lost their jobs in 2008, and in many cases, the coverage that came with these jobs.
1.1 million: Increase in Medicaid and SCHIP enrollment with every percentage point increase in unemployment.
19: Number of states that, in the face of recession, have enacted budget cuts for Medicaid or SCHIP for fiscal year 2009 or 2010.
The number of uninsured has increased.
1.2 million: Number of children who lost employer-based health insurance through their parents in the 12 months ending in October 2008.
1 million: Number of children who have enrolled in Medicaid or SCHIP as a result of lost parental employment in the 12 months ending in October 2008.
6.2 million: Number of uninsured children living in families making below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, almost all of whom are eligible for SCHIP or Medicaid.
9 million: Number of children who are uninsured nationwide, the vast majority of whom are from low- and middle-income families.
Reauthorizing and expanding SCHIP can help.
10.6 million: The number of children the new SCHIP legislation will cover (6.7 million currently enrolled; 3.9 million added to the program).
Put simply, health insurance improves access to care for children, helping them grow into healthy adults. Increasing coverage for our nation’s low-income children is one of the best investments we can make to improve long-term health.
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