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Report: Children's Health Care Bill May Cover 300-thousand Uninsured Floridians

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January 16, 2009

In what’s being called the largest expansion of children’s health care coverage in a dozen years, the U.S. House voted to extend the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), providing insurance to 11 million children, including more than 4 million currently uninsured. With the Senate considering the bill possibly today, Families USA has released its report on the impact the legislation would have on America’s families.

According to the report, nearly 800,000 Florida children are currently uninsured, ranking the state third behind Texas and California. The bill would add nearly 300,000 children to the state health insurance program, a 36-percent increase, according to Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.

"Expansion of children’s health coverage is a major victory for America’s families. The legislation will help to ensure that children get the health care they need when they need it."

The vote shows Congress is now ready to provide affordable health care for America’s children, adds Pollack, at this critical time when families are in need. He adds, the passage also builds confidence that the Obama administration is serious about health care solutions.

"The increase in coverage is rather substantial, and it truly does result in a down payment toward broader health care reform."

Pollack explains that, like Medicaid, these funds require the states to provide some up-front money, but this bill also increases the federal percentage the states receive per patient to as much as 65 percent.

"I think there is a strong incentive that, even during tough fiscal times, the state should want to put up the matching dollars because of the large influx of federal dollars it will receive."

Pollack hopes this increased incentive will encourage states to reach out to more families, because no state is currently covering all of the children who are eligible.

President Bush had vetoed two earlier attempts to expand the program, and it was set to expire in March.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL