The Episcopal Church joined with other religious voices and healthcare representatives in calling for the reauthorization of State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) at a July 25 news conference.
Building on widespread support for the SCHIP program and its 10-year record of success, a diverse group of national leadership organizations has joined together to convey a simple but important message: We do not always agree, but we do agree on health care coverage for our nation's children. For this reason, we urge Congress to pass and the President to sign SCHIP reauthorization legislation quickly, and provide coverage for a vulnerable population we cannot afford to neglect-children.
"We stand united because we believe Congress and the President should do the right thing for our children and our nation-reauthorize a critically important program that is supported by the vast majority of voters," said Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), which organized the press conference on Capitol Hill.
In her support, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote: "Whoever cares for the least cares for the divine image in our midst. The health and well-being of children, especially those living in the richest nation in the world, should never be reduced to political ideology, and I urge Congress and the Bush Administration to renew SCHIP legislation promptly."
"Bi-partisan legislation -- as popular and effective as SCHIP -- should not face congressional or presidential opposition," noted John B. Johnson of the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations (/page/office-government-relations). "In this case however, the President has asserted that he is opposed to any expansion of SCHIP on ideological grounds. At the moment some 9 million children, most of whom are eligible for SCHIP, are not covered."
Johnson, representing the Episcopal Church at the news conference, continued: "Children covered either by Medicare or SCHIP have far better access to preventative and primary health care than uninsured children. SCHIP legislation currently under consideration by Congress would add $35 billion over 5 years to help reach the 9 million uninsured children. As healthcare becomes more expensive, dollars spent on insuring children will be stretched, further reducing the number of children with coverage."
In this call, the Episcopal Church joined other diverse organizations including labor, health, religious, education and children's advocacy groups.
Demonstrating broad public support for ensuring that children in low-income families have access to health coverage, nearly nine in 10 registered voters voice support for the SCHIP.
While President George Bush has threatened to veto bipartisan Senate legislation that would increase SCHIP funding by $35 billion over five years, almost two-thirds of voters surveyed late last week said they think the President would be doing the wrong thing if he vetoed the legislation.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than eight million children are still uninsured in the U.S., many of them eligible for the SCHIP program but still not enrolled. Eight in ten voters surveyed said they believe that such a high number of uninsured children represents a crisis or very serious problem. More than six in ten voters said the current health care system is not meeting the needs of children.
The national public opinion survey was conducted on behalf of the Catholic Health Association of the United States by Public Opinion Strategies, Inc., of Alexandria, Virginia. The survey included responses from 800 registered voters contacted by telephone between July 19-22. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.46 percent.
Further information is available here.