Congressman Jim Matheson, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, hailed the committee's work to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and to advance the goal of covering more uninsured Utah kids. "The committee worked to address the critical issue of protecting the long term health of children in our state. I am proud to have contributed to this important effort and I hope we can soon see the President sign this landmark legislation into law," said Matheson.
"More than 45,000 Utah children who are eligible for this program are-right now-not covered. They live with working parents who either cannot get or cannot afford health insurance for their kids. This bill extends a proven program that provides access to the basic health care we want all our children to have," said Matheson. "Nothing is more important in Utah than protecting our kids."
Matheson said this year marks the 10th anniversary of SCHIP-a successful, bipartisan, federal-state collaboration that has decreased the rate of uninsured kids by 33 percent since 1997. More than 6 million children nationally have benefited from SCHIP; this measure continues that coverage, as well as extends it to an additional 5 million eligible, but uncovered children. He said that SCHIP is funded by the state and federal governments, with Utah receiving four federal dollars for each state dollar. SCHIP families also contribute through co-pays and premiums.
Matheson notes numerous health care studies document that children who have health insurance-and thus, improved access to care-have a better quality of life, miss fewer days of school, and decrease the likelihood of family bankruptcy due to medical bills.
"We'll pay for this through raising the cost of tobacco. It's a win-win, since increasing the price of cigarettes discourages would-be teen smoking and the revenue helps treat the ill-effects of this addictive product," said Matheson.