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Report: Congress Could Give MT a “Double Deal” On Health Insurance

September 13, 2007

Missoula, MT - A new analysis by the watchdog group Families USA of Congressional plans to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) indicates about 14,000 more Montana kids would be covered, doubling the number who currently have health insurance through the program, if the bill is passed.

Olivia Riutta, of the organization Working for Equality and Economic Liberation in Helena, says that would make a big dent in the rate of uninsured children.

"This could have a huge effect for the state and really help working families."

The U.S. House and Senate are working on combining their versions of S-CHIP, and Montana Senator Baucus supports an expansion of the program that could reach nearly 37,000 uninsured kids in the state. President Bush has threatened to veto additional coverage for kids, claiming the plan would hurt private insurance companies.

Courtney Long of Missoula disagrees. She says, despite the good job her husband found after graduating from college, they can't afford their family's healthcare premiums through his work.

"We've worked really hard to get here, and yet it feels like a setback because I can't make healthcare decisions based on what's best for my children."

The Longs feel their situation is representative of many working families in Montana, who are urging Congress to come to a speedy agreement to reauthorize and expand S-CHIP.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MT