Washington, D.C., March 13, 2007 -- The American Public Health Association (APHA) today released its recommendations for expanding health coverage to uninsured children through Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a successful federal and state joint program that is set to be reauthorized this year.
In its issue brief, APHA urges Congress to ensure that all children eligible for SCHIP and Medicaid can be covered by these programs, which collectively provide health coverage to 34 million U.S. children. During the past decade, SCHIP, together with Medicaid, has successfully reduced the rate of low-income children who are uninsured by one-third and improved their health status and outcomes. Yet 9 million – or 12 percent – of the nation’s children remain uninsured, and 75 percent of these children are eligible for but are not enrolled in SCHIP and Medicaid.
“It is unacceptable that 9 million of our nation’s children are currently uninsured, and federal funding shortfalls have prohibited more children from being enrolled in health coverage provided by the State Children’s Health Insurance Program,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, APHA executive director. “We cannot afford to gamble with the health of our younger generation. By expanding the very successful SCHIP and Medicaid programs, we can ensure that children have access to the health services they need and deserve.”
APHA’s recommendations for SCHIP reauthorization include:
- Providing at least $60 billion in new funds over five years for SCHIP reauthorization to cover all current enrollees and enroll most of the children eligible for but not enrolled in SCHIP and Medicaid, pregnant women and legal immigrant pregnant women and children;
- Strengthening the federal standard for SCHIP benefits packages to include Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services;
- Providing states with new coverage options, such as the expansion of coverage for pregnant women and legal immigrant children;
- Making 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
- Allowing states the flexibility to determine the citizenship status of Medicaid and SCHIP applicants.
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.