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Healthy Child Campaign seeks coverage for all kids



Health care for every child in the United States is the goal of a Children's Defense Fund campaign being supported by United Methodist Women.
A UMNS photo by Allysa Adams.













By Linda Bloom*
April 24, 2007 | STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS)

Every child in the United States, regardless of immigration status or family income, should have access to comprehensive health and mental health care, according to The United Methodist Church's women's organization.

To help achieve that goal, the Women's Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries is joining the "Healthy Child Campaign: Covering All Children in 2007," sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund.

In her address during the division's April 20-23 spring meeting, UMW chief executive Lois Dauway said 9 million U.S. children are without health insurance, even though nearly 90 percent of those children live in households with working parents.



 Lois Dauway

"Many of these children are eligible for coverage under Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program but are not enrolled in existing programs in large part because of different eligibility and enrollment barriers that make it difficult to obtain or keep coverage," Dauway said.

"Millions more children are underinsured or at risk of losing coverage if their parents change jobs or more employers drop family coverage."

One such child at risk was Devante Johnson of Houston. He suffered from advanced cancer of the kidneys and depended on Medicaid for treatments that he needed to survive.

Despite his mother's best efforts, Devante's paperwork for renewal for Medicaid was lost in the bureaucracy and he was without coverage for four months in 2006. "During this time, he depended upon clinical trials for care and his tumors continued to grow," Dauway said.

"A state representative intervened to restore coverage, but it was too late. On March 1, 2007, Devante Johnson died from complications of cancer. He was 14 years old."

The goal of the Healthy Child Campaign is to consolidate children's health coverage under Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program into a single federal program that guarantees all medically necessary services for children.

According to the Children's Defense Fund, the cost is estimated at $26.1 billion a year, which equals 25 days of spending on Medicare in 2007 and 16 days of general military spending this year. Because it would be a federal program, states would incur no additional cost for expanding coverage and enhancing benefits.

Under the program, children age 18 and younger whose family income is at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level - or $61,950 for a family of four in 2007 - would be covered. Children with family incomes over the 300 percent level could buy into the program. Pregnant women at or below the 300 percent level would be eligible for prenatal, delivery and postpartum care.

The Women's Division, which administers the church's United Methodist Women's groups, plans to support the Healthy Child Campaign through petitions, an action alert and opportunities for education and awareness.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

related audio

Lois Dauway: "Every 46 seconds, a child is born uninsured in America."

Lois Dauway: "Her son went without coverage ... and his tumors continued to grow."

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United Methodist Women

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