WASHINGTON - February 5 - “America’s children must also have a healthy start in life. In a new term, we will lead an aggressive effort to enroll millions of poor children who are eligible but not signed up for the government’s health insurance programs. We will not allow a lack of attention, or information, to stand between these children and the health care they need.” (President George W. Bush, Republican National Convention, September 2, 2004)
The following is the statement of Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, about the President’s budget proposal that would cut children’s health coverage:
“The President’s budget proposal would cut health coverage for children in low- and moderate-income families. Instead of expanding health coverage to America’s 9 million uninsured children, the President proposes to reduce coverage in two ways.
“First, the President’s proposed funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is inadequate to retain enrollment for the children who currently participate in the program. Not only will states be unable to enroll more children, but they will be forced to terminate coverage for hundreds of thousands of children, thereby consigning them to the ranks of the uninsured.
“Second, the President’s proposal is designed to reduce SCHIP eligibility in 18 states* where eligibility exceeds 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($34,340 in annual income for a family of three). It would jeopardize health coverage for many additional children.
“It is short-sighted to limit assistance to children in families with less than $35,000 in income, especially since the cost of family insurance premiums now averages $12,000, more than one-third of their incomes.
“The President’s proposal contravenes his explicit promise at the 2004 Republican convention. It also stymies efforts by Republican and Democratic governors to expand health coverage to the 9 million children who are uninsured today.
“A consensus is developing among politically and ideologically diverse organizations and policymakers that all children should have health coverage. Not only is the President clearly out of step, but he is heading in the wrong direction.
“At the same time that the President is cutting children’s health coverage, he also plans to make large reductions in Medicaid. As a result, the President’s proposal will put health coverage increasingly out of reach for millions of America’s families.
“We call on Congress to reject the President’s health budget proposals and work to achieve more affordable coverage for all, starting with America’s children.”
*California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. Three other jurisdictions, the District of Columbia, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, which are also planning to raise SCHIP eligibility, could be adversely affected as well.