WASHINGTON - July 11 - The Campaign for Children’s Health Care, an initiative led by a diverse group of national organizations, today announced its plans to raise public awareness about the plight of more than 9 million children who have no health care coverage. The Campaign is designed to make expanded health coverage for children a national priority.
The Campaign’s launch, which was announced at the National Press Club today, will involve numerous activities across the country over the next year. Among those activities are town hall meetings connected nationally by satellite, a national essay contest for school children about the importance of health coverage, the release of a series of policy reports, grassroots events in communities across the country, a Washington lobby day, and a national online petition urging expanded health coverage for all children.
The online petition urges members of Congress and the President “…to begin work immediately on legislation that will provide comprehensive, affordable, high-quality health coverage for all children.” It is posted on the newly unveiled Campaign Web site (www.childrenshealthcampaign.org). The petition will be delivered to the President and the Congress next spring at a time when Congress considers the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
At the Campaign’s launch, the Catholic Health Association released new survey data about the public’s attitude concerning expanded children’s health coverage. The survey found that 70 percent of likely voters agree that providing affordable, quality health insurance to all children in the U.S. should be one of the top priorities of Congress and the President (key findings are attached to this document).
The Campaign will seek to inform the public about the urgency of expanding health coverage for uninsured children. It will emphasize that these children are primarily in working families; that investing in expanded health coverage for children will result in improving youngsters’ educational and general development; and that an early investment in children’s health coverage is a sound investment.
Among those leading the Campaign are influential groups focused on health care (such as organizations representing physicians, nurses, and hospitals), children’s groups, educators, and parents’ organizations.
“It is high time that the 9 million uninsured children in this country get health care coverage. Lack of health care impedes their ability to perform well at school, lead healthy active lives, and the opportunity to be productive citizens. Children deserve to be healthy and it is our responsibility to work towards that goal.”
- Ron Pollack, Families USA
"Medical research in the United States is among the best in the world, and those who provide health care are committed, caring professionals. However, America's most vulnerable citizens, our children, are woefully neglected in a health care system that focuses on treatment rather than maintaining good health and preventing diseases. It must be fixed. America's family physicians believe it will take the voices of the people to build the health care system we want and need. The Campaign for Children's Health Care will help make those voices heard."
- Larry S. Fields, M.D., American Academy of Family Physicians
"Uninsured children fail to get medical, mental health and dental services, go without prescriptions and skip doctor visits, all of which leads to poor health. The good news is we have the ability to cover every child in this country. We have to make it a priority."
- Matthew Levy, MD, MPH, American Academy of Pediatrics
"The Catholic health care ministry has long been committed to accessible and affordable health care for all. We welcome this campaign to cover all children as an important first step toward that goal, and as an investment in America's future."
- Sister Carol Keehan, Catholic Health Association of the United States
"Evidence and common sense tell us that healthy children are better learners. Children with untreated health conditions have more trouble concentrating in class and have higher absenteeism than children with access to good healthcare. It is a moral imperative to ensure that all children have adequate healthcare coverage."
- Antonia Cortese, American Federation of Teachers
“The health services Head Start provides are sound investments in America’s poorest children. They increase poor children’s ability to perform in school, reduce the likelihood of untreated illness and suffering, help eliminate health problems that will prevent poor school attendance in subsequent years, and increase the likelihood that poor children will grow up to be healthy, productive members of society. However, because of cuts being made to Head Start and Medicaid and the growing need, it is becoming more difficult for local programs to ensure that the low-income children they serve get the help they need. Let’s hope Congress will do the right thing by our children by investing in Head Start and children’s health care so that every child will get a chance to succeed in school and life.”
- Michael McGrady, National Head Start Association
"All Americans deserve comprehensive health coverage, especially our children who are particularly vulnerable. As the cost of health insurance increases, more and more children are losing health coverage from their parents' employer-based insurance. Safety net programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP will play a larger role in ensuring adequate coverage and access to care for these children. Further cuts in program funding and cost-shifting will only lead to increases in the number of uninsured children because of holes in the safety net. These cuts will further lead to the delay of needed care, poorer health status and the use of more costly health services."
- Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, American Public Health Association
“It’s a national disgrace that in the world’s most prosperous nation, millions of American children do not have access to the proper health care they need and deserve. The United States is virtually alone among industrialized nations in its failure to offer universal health care. Most kids who don’t have health insurance come from families where the parents are working; this shows that our system is broken. We have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to make universal care a reality--and covering our kids is a critical first step in achieving this goal. Our young people are the future of our nation, and they deserve nothing less than the best care the American medical community has to offer.”
- Gerald McEntee, AFSCME President
“Although immigrant children are just as likely as U.S. citizen children to live under the care of a full time worker, their parents tend to work in jobs that do not offer employer-sponsored coverage. Yet federal health insurance programs intended to fill the gap impose harsh restrictions, such as a five-year waiting period on new immigrants. It should be a national imperative that every child living in the U.S. has access to affordable health insurance.”
- Linton Joaquin, National Immigration Law Center
For a list of campaign partners, see below. As more organizations join the Campaign for Children's Health Care, we will be adding their names to the list on our Web site at www.childrenshealthcampaign.org