As a father and a grandfather, the health of our kids here in West Virginia is very important to me. That is why I am very proud to recognize Child Health Day, which is the first Monday in October. Let us take this opportunity to learn about protecting and advocating for children's health, as well as reflect on how your government is working for your families and helping to keep your kids healthy.
This year, Congress took additional steps to not only keep the health of children insured, but also worked to get uninsured kids, who are eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), enrolled in these programs. The reauthorization of the CHIP program, which I supported earlier this year, will not only continue to provide health insurance coverage to our nation's children, but it has also provided $40 million in grants for states to identity eligible children. This money helps parents to understand the programs available to their children and to help them get started in the process, so kids get the healthcare they need.
Today, two out of every three uninsured children in the U.S. are eligible for health care coverage, but remain uninsured. I am proud to have helped pass the SCHIP reauthorization legislation because it provides health care coverage to the children in West Virginia and across the nation who need it most. As part of these recent grant announcements West Virginia Alliance for Sustainable Families (WVASF), along with West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition and the Partners in Health Network, were awarded $330,700 to help enroll eligible children throughout West Virginia.
The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is jointly financed by the Federal and State governments and is administered by the States. While working within Federal guidelines, each State determines the design of its program, eligibility groups, benefit packages, and payment levels for coverage. In West Virginia, kids who are 18 or younger and United States citizens that currently do not have health insurance and have not been insured in the past six months are eligible for coverage. Also applicants for WVCHIP cannot be eligible for Medicaid, and must live with families that meet the WVCHIP guidelines. For more information on WVCHIP please visit http://www.wvchip.org/eligible.shtml.
I think we can all agree that health insurance should not be treated as a luxury that some families cannot afford. It should be both accessible and affordable for everyone, especially for our children, who by no fault of their own are often unable to receive the care that they need. That is why, as we move forward with the debate surrounding health care reform, I will continue to reinforce my five principles of health care and work towards fixing our broken health care system. My five main healthcare principles are 1) Access for everyone- regardless of age or preexisting conditions 2) If you have insurance and you like it then you keep it 3) Health Insurance must be affordable to everyone 4) Preventative healthcare is key to keeping down costs and saving lives and 5) Healthcare must be portable- so if you lose your job you don't have to lose your insurance or your doctor.
Maintaining our children's health is so vitally important to the future of our country, whether it is preventing disease and obesity or treating illness- we must provide basic healthcare services to all children. It is my sincere commitment that we must take it one step further and ensure that all 45 million uninsured Americans have the same access to affordable, quality healthcare coverage. An important part of getting Americans back to work, is keeping kids and their families healthy, so that they are ready to take on the challenges facing our great Nation.