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Matheson Fights to Save Health Insurance Coverage for Utah Children

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Matheson Fights to Save Health Insurance Coverage for Utah Children

Congressman Jim Matheson today praised the passage of legislation to continue a successful, bipartisan collaboration that has provided health insurance for 6 million children nationally, including thousands of Utah children. The measure—HR 3162—reauthorizes the landmark State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and extends coverage to an additional 5 million children.

Matheson, as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, helped write the bill.

"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. Fewer kids that start smoking means healthier adults, with less smoking-caused disease to treat," said Matheson.

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