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Coalition Calls on Congress to Cover All Uninsured Kids

June 15, 2007

Washington, D.C. - A proposal before Congress this month would extend health coverage to all uninsured children and pregnant women in the nation, including over 16,000 kids in South Dakota. More than a thousand faith, education, health and social services providers and children's advocacy groups are backing the plan, called the "All Healthy Children Act." Nayyera Haq with the Children's Defense Fund says providing health coverage to the more than nine million uninsured children in the country is the smart and moral thing to do.

“There are working families in South Dakota that are struggling to make ends meet And by working families, I mean one or two parents who are working. They're doing everything they're supposed to do. They're paying taxes, they go to work everyday, and health care is expensive. If your employer doesn't provide it, it's hard to get it on the open market.”

Haq notes that health care is a big problem particularly in South Dakota's Native American communities, where in some areas there are six-bed hospitals serving more than 5,000 people.

“The federal government has yet to be able to provide the tools that people need to be healthy. So, the answer is this program. Put the money towards Medicaid; put the money towards Indian Health Service and make sure that people are getting the health care that they need. No one can succeed unless they have their health, and that's especially true for children.”

The proposal would combine services from the State Children's Insurance Program (S-CHIP) and the Federal Medicaid program, expand eligibility, and make it easier to apply.

Haq adds that everyone has a stake in making sure kids are healthy, and that's why so many diverse groups have signed on in support of the Healthy Child Campaign.

“The coalition includes everyone from the U.S. Conference of Mayors to a variety of churches and religious organizations.”

For more information about the Healthy Child Campaign, including a complete list of endorsers, a summary of the All Healthy Children Act and stories of uninsured children visit a www.childrensdefense.org.

David Law/Eric Mack, Public News Service - SD