Statement by Shay Bilchik, President/CEO, Child Welfare League of America on the Release of New Report Documenting the Plight of Uninsured Children
September 28, 2006
Washington, DC - As a coalition member of the Campaign for Children's Health Care, The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) is alarmed by the results of the latest study conducted by Families USA showing that uninsured children are nearly five times as likely as insured children to have at least one delayed or unmet health care need. In addition, the study also found that uninsured children were more than 13 times as likely to lack a usual source of health care and more than three times as likely not to have seen a doctor in the past year as insured children. With one out of nine children in this country currently uninsured, and recent Census data showing that, for the first time since 1998, the rate of uninsured children has increased, Congress clearly needs to be spurred to action.
The clear deficiencies in the health care experiences of uninsured children compared to children who are insured are unacceptable. As a nation, we cannot afford to jeopardize children's health during their most crucial developmental years, undermining the foundation which we know is so critical to achieving future social, intellectual and economic success.
Every child deserves access to high-quality, affordable health coverage to enable the best possible start in life. This issue is particularly relevant for the children served by CWLA's member agencies. Many children who enter foster care arrive with preexisting physical and mental health conditions which have gone unaddressed due to a variety of reasons, including a lack of access to health care services. While specific focus needs to be given to the health care needs of the population of children in the nation's foster care system, it is equally essential that all children have access to primary and preventive health care services, so that early assessment and intervention can occur when necessary
CWLA once again reiterates its position that Congress must take responsible action in reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which currently helps provide coverage for millions of low-income children across the country. We are committed to working with our partners in the Campaign for Children's Health Care to ensure that health coverage for all children is achieved. CWLA calls on federal legislators to provide additional financial support to Medicaid and SCHIP to allow these programs to continue to meet the health care needs of the millions of children who currently rely on them, and facilitate expanded enrollment and outreach efforts. In addition, CWLA demands urgent action by the 109th Congress to immediately pass legislation to provide funding to prevent an estimated SCHIP funding shortfall in 17 states for Fiscal Year 2007 from occurring. If left unaddressed before the end of the year, these funding shortfalls could endanger the health coverage of over 500,000 children.
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