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MT Families Looking for a "CHIP in"

July 19, 2007

It's all about the children today in Congress. The U.S. Senate is taking up a bill that would expand the state children's health insurance program, known as S-CHIP, to more of Montana's 37,000 uninsured kids, and many more children across the country. Olivia Riutta with Working for Equality and Economic Liberation in Helena says it's the right move now because children can't wait for the bigger solutions to the health care crisis.

"In Montana, we've seen the erosion of employer-sponsored health coverage. And currently, over 90 percent of our uninsured kids come from a family that's working."

President Bush has threatened to veto any expansion of S-CHIP because he says he wants to scale the system back, not expand it. But Riutta notes that a recent poll in Montana shows about 80 percent support expanding S-CHIP.
About nine million kids don't have health coverage nationwide.

The U.S. Senate plan includes money specifically to do outreach to Native American families who are eligible for CHIP coverage, but haven't enrolled.

"Which is very exciting in a state like Montana where we have a high Native American population, and a very high uninsured rates on reservation. That's something we certainly need to be focusing on, and it's nice to see that there is money specifically set aside for that."

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MT