Position on Child Health Insurance

A. The New York Society for Ethical Culture endorses the Children's Defense Fund Proposal entitled: Covering All Children in 2007: An Achievable, Smart and Right Goal.* It would consolidate children's health coverage under Medicaid, and the federally funded State Child Health Insurance Plus or SCHIP program into a one program. It would guarantee that children in all 50 states and the District of Columbia receive all medically necessary services. It would increase the number of children eligible for health insurance coverage, eliminate barriers to enrolling children in health coverage and keep them enrolled, address the variations among states in services offered to children, address inadequate provider reimbursement, which compromises access to care for low-income children, and provide coverage for pregnant women. Providing universal access to health care for children will ensure that the families of all children can choose their own regular sources of health care, including their physician, and that they can take full advantage of preventive services.

B. NYSEC endorses the Black Congressional Caucus proposal to include in the federally funded SCHIP program dental and mental health coverage, as well as childhood obesity prevention provisions.

C. NYSEC endorses the action of the Public Issues Committee that has made a request to the United Social Services , Inc. (SSB) to develop a program with their collaborators to facilitate the enrollment in SCHIP of interested families of the children, who are served by the SSB . The hope is that such a project would become a model for similar faith-based and secular organizations serving children.

Discussion: (1) More than 9 million children in America, almost 90% living in working households and a majority in two-parent families, are still uninsured. Millions more are underinsured. In New York State 450,000 children are uninsured.

(2) PIC would like to have recommended the proposed 2007-2008 New York State Administration's Child Health Plus B Expansion. It is more affordable and easier to access for families than the existing state SCHIP or the Children's Defense Fund proposal. However, due to intense controversy on how this and other state health insurance programs may be funded, it was decided not to endorse it at this time.

(3) When considering health coverage for all age groups, there are coalitions that transcend ideology that are designing universal national health insurance plans. Some see full implementation by 2012, with pivotal short-term steps leading to full implementation. Some of these coalitions see the effort to insure as many children as possible as one of those pivotal steps.

* Staff members of the Medical and Health Research Association of New York were the chief source of documentation for this paper and we look forward to a productive on-going relationship with them.