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Multi-million Dollar Campaign for Kids' Health Program is Launched

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An issue campaign aimed at strengthening and reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was launched yesterday by America's Agenda: Health Care for Kids, a new, non-partisan organization of labor and business leaders. Health Care for Kids' mission is to assure that every American child gets the high quality health care he or she needs.

Health Care for Kids has launched a bipartisan TV and direct mail campaign aimed at persuading a divided Congress to approve SCHIP legislation that will extend coverage to another 3 million low-income children. The TV and print ads urge members of the US Senate and House of Representatives who voted for the stronger State Children's Health Insurance Program subsequently vetoed by President George Bush last year to "keep fighting to insure our kids."

"The SCHIP program has been an enormous success, giving millions of poor kids a chance to start out healthy in life," said Doug Dority, president of Health Care for Kids. "Under this program, children receive the regular checkups they need to stay healthy, and the care and treatment they need when they are sick. The level of federal funding will determine whether states have sufficient funds to continue covering children who are now enrolled and whether they will be able to cover millions of additional children who need decent health care."

Health Care for Kids' Secretary-Treasurer Mark Blum said the ads are being run "in geographically diverse regions across the country, in Districts represented by Democrats and Republicans who stood up for strengthening SCHIP to assure more American kids can get the health care they need."

The first round of ads is "a substantial buy of several millions of dollars," Blum said. "We intend to extend the campaign based on our success in raising more funds from more donors."

A bipartisan coalition in Congress wants to renew and strengthen SCHIP. Chief sponsors of the Senate bill introduced last year were Democrats Max Baucus of Montana and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Republicans Charles Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah. When President Bush vetoed the reauthorization bill last year, Senators Grassley and Hatch issued a joint press release terming the veto "disappointing" and "even a little unbelievable."

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children with insurance fare significantly better than uninsured children on a host of access measures, such as having a usual source of care, fewer delays in care due to cost, and number of physician and dental visits.

Studies have shown that additional funding to strengthen SCHIP will actually save money. Researchers at Brigham Young and Arizona State universities report it costs states more when children are forced to drop out of SCHIP because they shift away from routine care to more frequent and more costly emergency care.

SCHIP legislation traces its roots to a children's health insurance plan in Massachusetts. Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch were co-authors of the SCHIP bill that President Clinton signed into law in August of 1997.

Thanks to SCHIP, more than 6.6 million children now have health insurance. Yet 9 million more American children still lack health care coverage they need.

The business and labor leaders who founded Health Care for Kids have a history of working together to win comprehensive health care reform for all Americans in America's Agenda: Health Care for All, an advocacy organization that has been building support for comprehensive health care reform, state by state, since 2004.

"Health Care for Kids is a distinct, newly-founded issue advocacy organization," Dority points out. "We are launching this issue campaign with a very specific purpose: to persuade Congress to pass the bill that will strengthen and reauthorize SCHIP. This will be a significant step toward achieving our overall mission of guaranteeing affordable, high quality health care for all Americans."

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SOURCE America's Agenda: Health Care for Kids
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