I'd like to call attention to a pressing issue directly impacting our children's health. Ten years ago, the health and welfare of our nation's children took a major leap forward with the enactment of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. This legislation, which passed with strong bipartisan support, has provided a vital source of health care coverage to children whose parents work but cannot afford or are not offered health insurance. SCHIP has effectively reduced the number of children living without health insurance by more than one third. While the program covers 6 million individuals, another 9 million children remain uninsured, three-quarters of whom are currently eligible, but unenrolled for either SCHIP or Medicaid.
On Sept. 30, the SCHIP program will expire. As such Congress must pass reauthorizing legislation within the next several months to ensure the program continues to thrive and that no child loses coverage. In Utah, SCHIP covers an average of 47,000 children, yet more than 90,000 remain uninsured.
It is a priority of our state chapter and the national American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure all children have access to quality health care. Uninsured children are far less likely to receive timely care for childhood illnesses, such as sore throats, earaches and asthma, they often end up in the emergency room or hospital due to delays in seeking treatment, and may not have access to well-child visits and needed prescription medications.
Isn't it time for every child in Utah to have coverage? Help ensure our children get the best start in life by urging Congress to properly fund and renew SCHIP as soon as possible.