House Eliminates Premiums for Children, Senate Doesn't

Seattle, Wash.: Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center praises state legislators for protecting child health by eliminating premiums for poor and low-income children's healthcare.

Seattle, Wash.: Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center praises state legislators for protecting child health by eliminating premiums for poor and low-income children's healthcare.

The House of Representatives' budget released today eliminates monthly premiums for children's health coverage on the Medicaid program.

New funds made available through the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have made it possible to avoid this devastating loss in children's health coverage. In combination with the newly available federal CHIP funds, only $1.2 million in State funds are necessary to fully protect health coverage for poor and low-income children.

The Senate budget, also released today, fails to match the House proposal. The Senate budget charges monthly premiums for children in families living at the poverty level -- about $15,000 for a family of three – and above. In the fall of 2003, Texas implemented nearly the same monthly premiums for children at the poverty level, and, by January of 2004, 100,000 children lost coverage as a result.

"Monthly bills for Medicaid will compromise children's health, leaving them uninsured," said Dr. Richard Molteni, Children's Vice President and Medical Director. "If children go without preventive health care, they will end up sicker in our emergency rooms - threatening their health and using the most expensive forms of health care."

Dr. Eileen Klein, Emergency Physician, Children's Hospital, has seen the results of delaying care: "I have seen children in the Emergency Department whose asthma attacks have worsened to the point of needing hospitalization. My concern is that in some cases this is due to lack of insurance."

The $500 annual cost to the state of insuring a low-income child is nearly the cost of one emergency room visit for asthma. Assuring children access to early care is particularly cost-effective.

The State of Washington's Children Winter 2003 report finds assuring Washington children access to early and preventive care dramatically decreased hospitalizations for preventable conditions such as asthma, pneumonia, and gastroenteritis.

Children's Hospital calls on state legislators to dedicate the small amount of state funds necessary to fully assure children access to cost-effective health care, keeping kids healthy and decreasing avoidable hospitalizations.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

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