Washington, D.C., April 23, 2007 – As a national supporter of Cover the Uninsured Week, the American Public Health Association (APHA) today renews its call for expanding health coverage for children through Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This year, SCHIP reauthorization presents Congress with an opportunity to make a key step to give every child in the United States the health coverage he or she needs to grow up healthy and strong.
APHA urges Congress to ensure that SCHIP and Medicaid are able to cover all children eligible for these programs, which collectively provide health coverage to 34 million U.S. children. SCHIP, a successful joint federal and state program with strong bipartisan support, is scheduled to be reauthorized this fall. About 9 million – or 12 percent – of the nation’s children remain uninsured; SCHIP and Medicaid have the potential to cover 75 percent of these children lacking health coverage.
“It is appalling that 9 million children remain without health insurance in the richest nation in the world,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, APHA executive director. “We can do better. If a child goes without a medical service as routine as a trip to the dentist or to the doctor, the health, educational and economic repercussions are tragic. Our younger generation deserves no less than access to quality, affordable health services.”
Children without health insurance are at least three times less likely than insured children to have seen a doctor in the past year. Uninsured children also have a higher risk of having a preventable disease, such as the flu and measles, and are more likely to have common speech, hearing and behavioral problems that require treatments that are usually covered by insurance.
APHA recently issued recommendations for expanding health coverage to uninsured children through Medicaid and SCHIP. The full text of the SCHIP issue brief, “Reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program: A Key Step to Covering All Kids,” is available at www.apha.org/advocacy/activities/schip. In this issue brief, APHA urges Congress to:
More information about Cover the Uninsured Week, April 23-29, is available at www.CovertheUninsured.org.
- Ensure that a minimum of $60 billion in additional funds is provided over five years for children’s health coverage;
- Assure that states have ample dollars to cover most children eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP, and give states financial incentives for covering more uninsured kids in their Medicaid and SCHIP programs;
- Strengthen the federal standard for SCHIP benefits packages to make it comparable to the Medicaid benefits package, which includes coverage of Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services;
- Provide adequate funding and give states the option to cover pregnant women and legal immigrant pregnant women and children in their SCHIP programs;
- Make revisions to federal law to give states the flexibility to deem children eligible for and enroll them in SCHIP or Medicaid based on information from other means-tested programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the National School Lunch Program; and
- Allow states the flexibility to determine the citizenship status of SCHIP and Medicaid applicants.