"This is the time for action," declared Lindsey Wade, policy associate with the Children's Defense Fund, to those preparing arguments for the legislators they would visit the final day of the gathering.
provided more ammunition."No child should be a victim of the lottery of geography," she
said, explaining that differing state regulations meant thousands went without health care."We want to create one program so that every child has access to the same health care package."She
outlined another change advocates should request: insurance that "covers everything a child needs" including adequate mental health services."Twenty visits per year or less - that's not even twice a month," she
said, describing what CHIP provides now.
"We know families across the country that can't afford to get their children the mental health care they need," said Wade
."Those families are forced to resign custody and put those children in public institutions because they cannot access the services in this wealthy country."
The solution is simplification, said Wade
described the program the Children's Defense Fund
wants to see adopted: coverage for every child in families with income levels below 300 percent of the poverty line ($60,000 for a family of four); automatic enrollment when the family enrolls for any "means tested " service such as school lunches; an end to premiums so that children aren't penalized when parents forget to pay or cannot pay; and an increase in reimbursement rates to care providers so that doctors will be more willing to accept the children as patients.The CDF
also wants children who "age out" of the foster care program to receive health coverage at ages 19 and 20 as they start their working lives.
"The cost of our proposal," said Wade
, "the five-year total to get all children covered would be about $70 billion.To include the [increased] provider reimbursement rates, the five year total would be $137 billion for five years."
The annual cost would be $26 billion."That's less than three and a half months in Iraq," said Wade
."It's 16 days of military spending."
"So don't let your members of Congress tell you that they can't find the money," said Wade