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Children's Advocates say New York Hit Especially Hard by Cuts

May 16, 2008

New York, NY - New York health and social welfare organizations are joining in urging Congress and the Bush administration to reverse recent restrictions on Medicaid and S-CHIP. They are signing on to a national letter of protest from some 170 organizations, arguing that New York will be particularly hard hit by recent cutbacks in those programs.

Bruce Lesley is with First Focus, which coordinated the petition to the President, Congress, and the Health and Human Services Department. He says the restrictions would add to the country's nine million uninsured children, and have the greatest impact on those regions of the country with the highest cost of living.

"They've drawn this line saying, 'Children above this level of poverty should not get federal support.' And the cost of having a family in New York City is nowhere near as inexpensive as is in Kansas. So, this line is most harmful to children in New York and other places that have higher costs of living."

Lesley says the lack of early coverage can have lethal effects on children who miss essential treatment.

"Studies have shown that about 18,000 people in this country die each year because of not having health insurance. And, there are numerous cases of children who are delayed in seeking care, or who don't get necessary care, because their families do not have health insurance coverage."

Judy Waxman, with the National Women's Law Center, says the Medicaid cutbacks will hurt mothers as well as their children, since nearly three-quarters of adult Medicaid recipients are women.

"States are ultimately going to have to cut back their programs. And, the moms on the programs are very often the first target of the cuts. No doubt, it will mean low-income moms will eventually lose their Medicaid."

Critics say the Bush Administration is also imposing funding restrictions that make it difficult for states to provide more children with health insurance under S-CHIP, which supports the Child Health Plus program in New York.

The protesting organizations are calling on the Senate to pass a bill that would force a moratorium on the restrictions. A similar measure has already passed the House.

The Administration claims that the restrictions will help eliminate fraud and waste.

Robert Knight/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NY