FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2007—New York, NY—The National League for Nursing is among the leading voices being raised by the nursing profession to call for the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which, since its introduction a decade ago, has successfully reduced the numbers of uninsured children in the United States. Created as a result of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, SCHIP has improved access to health care for the six million children currently enrolled. In addition to those children, benefits through SCHIP have also been made available to pregnant women and 600,000 additional adult family members.
“Concern for the health of our children is essential to the creation of a compassionate society that is the cornerstone of democracy,” said Dr. Beverly Malone, CEO of the NLN. “I cannot stress enough my belief in universal health coverage for all Americans. SCHIP is one critical step in the right direction, and it must not be allowed to lapse.”
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study and other professional research, extending health insurance to previously uninsured children has meant reduced emotional and financial stress for low-income families and a positive effect on health outcomes through regular preventive and primary care.
The NLN supports the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) in reaching out to Congress to incorporate the following principles into its reauthorization of SCHIP:
- States should have the ability to cover parents of SCHIP-eligible children as is available under the current program. Extensive data supports the premise that parents with insurance are more likely to keep up with preventative and primary health services for their children.
- States should be given the necessary flexibility to cover legal immigrant children and pregnant women who meet eligibility rules regardless of how long they have lived in the US. Consequently, we strongly support language contained in the Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act which lifts the five-year waiting period for federal health care benefits for legal immigrants. Pregnant women should be eligible to receive coverage under SCHIP – without the requirement of a federal waiver – so that they can have access to the necessary prenatal care to prevent, detect, and treat health problems before the birth of a child.
- Incentives should be created for states to increase outreach and eliminate barriers to enrollment. We strongly support efforts that reward states that successfully boost enrollment and prevent children from dropping on and off the rolls due to strict asset tests.
- Provide for the inclusion of comprehensive health benefits that include mental health, dental care, and vision care – among other vital health services.
- Prevent further funding reductions to Medicaid that would impact the provision of health care to children. The SCHIP program relies on a strong Medicaid program which must not be weakened in order to finance an expansion of health coverage for children.
- SCHIP should maintain flexibility in program design and eligibility. Its goal should be to provide health coverage to as many uninsured children as possible. It would be detrimental for Congress to set SCHIP eligibility levels lower than are currently set by states. Lower SCHIP eligibility would impact SCHIP programs in 26 states and would impact coverage for at least a million children.
Concluded NLN president Dr. Toni Bargagliotti, “The NLN is proud to join this vitally important effort organized by the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.”
Editors and reporters: For interview opportunities, please contact NLN chief communications officer, Karen R. Klestzick, at 212-812-0376, firstname.lastname@example.org.