Senate Democrats Pledge To Help Uninsured Latino Children

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Health insurance for Latino children

Senate Democrats highlighted the disproportionate effects of the nation's health care crisis on Latino children.

On this year's Cover the Uninsured Week, Senate Democrats have proposed a series of initiatives to combat this crisis of millions of Latino children that do not have the health insurance they need.

As many throughout our nation recognize Cover the Uninsured week, Senate Democrats reaffirm their commitment to ensure that every child in the United States has health care coverage. A newly released Democratic Policy Committee report "Improving Health Coverage for Children is America's Top Health Priority" highlights the impact of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the need for its reauthorization by September 30th of this year. A link to the full report is included below.

"Nearly 3.5 million Hispanic children lack health insurance, that's about one in five Latino children," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said. "They are more likely to be uninsured than non-Hispanic white or black children. While the number of uninsured is unacceptably high, SCHIP has been a starting point that has helped reduce the number of Latino uninsured children. While Senate Democrats seek to strengthen and expand health care coverage for children, the Bush administration seeks to ratchet back SCHIP, in effect cutting coverage for 1.6 million children and low-income adults. For the nearly 45 million Americans and almost 9 million children living without health insurance, it is time to put politics aside and put their health and well-being first."

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According to the DPC Report, 1.4 million children stand to lose their existing coverage under the president's approach.

"While it is completely unacceptable that more than 45 million Americans are uninsured, the fact that Hispanic Americans are more than twice as likely to be uninsured is unconscionable. We must make expanding access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans a national priority," said Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).

"In Colorado, more than 167,000 children are without health insurance. Many of these young children are Latinos who lack the access to critical health care that will help them grow into healthy and contributing adults. In the past month I have held nearly a dozen meetings on the in my state with local health care professionals. Across my state of Colorado health care professionals agree that SCHIP and other initiatives should be expanded so that all of our children are covered. I will continue to work hard with my colleagues in Congress to accomplish that goal," Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) said.

"Latinos are the fastest growing sector of the American population, but they are unfortunately also the leader in another category: the uninsured," said Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). "This problem especially affects Latino children, who are the most uninsured ethnic group in the country, and are significantly less likely to get needed medical care than their peers. SCHIP has been able to successfully reduce these disparities, and I have been leading the fight to ensure that this program is fully funded. My colleagues and I are committed to addressing this difficulty affecting too many families throughout the nation, and seeing to it that uninsured Americans have access to comprehensive, quality, affordable health care."

The DPC Report also found that the disparities in health insurance coverage between citizen and legal immigrant children have grown significantly larger. While there are fewer uninsured children since the enactment of SCHIP, the percentage of lower-income legal immigrant children who lack health insurance coverage has increased since 1996 when federal legislation restricted the eligibility of legal immigrants for SCHIP and Medicaid during their first five years in the United States. Today, almost half of lower- income immigrant children are uninsured. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, April 2007).

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