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Matheson: Covering More Children is the Right Thing to Do

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Matheson: Covering More Children is the Right Thing to Do

Congressman Jim Matheson today voted to renew and expand the model program that seeks to provide health insurance for an additional 35,000 Utah children in low-income families. The bipartisan Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act—H.R. 2—passed the House, after being approved in the Senate. The President is scheduled to sign it later this afternoon, with Matheson in attendance.

"Ensuring that every Utah child has access to affordable health care is morally the right thing to do," said Matheson. "Over its ten-year history, this program has been a resounding success that has resulted in healthier lives for thousands of Utah children and a safety net for their working parents."

Matheson said the legislation renewing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) preserves coverage for approximately 7 million children nationally who are currently enrolled and it extends coverage to 4.1 million uninsured children who are eligible for—but not enrolled. In Utah , that means an additional 35,900 children may sign up, adding to the 44,785 enrolled as of 2007.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, four out of five newly-insured children under this bill will enroll under the current eligibility limits. Lack of funds prevented their enrollment until now. The bill also provides for the coverage of pregnant women, so their babies can get off to a healthy start.

The SCHIP program is a public-private partnership, funded by both federal and state governments, with each state dollar expended matched by four federal dollars. 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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