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Campaigns help children without health insurance


CLEVELAND: The Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) and the Cuyahoga County Department of Employment and Family Services are joining the national effort to support expansion of federal and state programs to provide health insurance coverage for children.


At its meeting April 26th, 2007  the BOCC will pass a resolution  supporting  the local and national push to extend free health insurance to children and their families during Cover the Uninsured Week (April 23-29).


 “We can’t underscore enough the importance of children receiving medical care throughout the year, not just when there is a catastrophic injury or illness,” said Commissioner Timothy F. Hagan, President of the Board of Commissioners. “Critical annual check-ups and treatments keep children healthy, helping reduce school absenteeism and repeat emergency room visits not to mention the long-term, chronic health issues into adulthood associated with inadequate health screenings and care during infancy and through the school-age years.”


At issue is the fate of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)—which, in Ohio is called Healthy Start/ Healthy Families. For the past 10 years, SCHIP has provided health coverage to children whose parents are either not offered health insurance for their children through their job, or who cannot afford the insurance that is offered. More than 6 million children are covered by SCHIP nationwide.


Congress must reauthorize SCHIP in 2007 in order for the program to continue, and President Bush, governors and members of Congress are presently deliberating the program’s future. Experts believe the current funding levels for these state programs—set in 1997—are not adequate to keep pace with the growing number of uninsured children; thus, federal funding must be increased to cover those currently enrolled in these programs, with more money needed to cover children who are presently uninsured.


“The country's most successful effort to provide insurance to vulnerable children is in danger unless Congress and the president act decisively to reauthorize and expand SCHIP and Healthy Start/Healthy Families in Ohio,” Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones said. “If they do not provide sufficient funding for the program millions of children, including kids here in our community, who desperately need health insurance will remain uninsured.”  


Now in its fifth year, the Cover the Uninsured campaign remains the largest mobilization ever to shine a national spotlight on the need to secure health coverage for all Americans. The centerpiece of the campaign is Cover the Uninsured Week, April 23-29.  During Cover the Uninsured Week, events will take place in Cuyahoga County and across the country, including press conferences, health and enrollment fairs, business events and campus and interfaith activities.


“Too many children in our community and our nation are uninsured and do not receive the care they need,” Commissioner Jimmy Dimora said. “There has never been a more important time for us to come together and support federal efforts to provide health coverage to children. Congress must continue to fund SCHIP and make America’s uninsured their top priority.”


The local campaign promoting Healthy Start, directed by the Department of Employment and Family Services, in partnership with Adcom Communications Inc., will run through December 31, 2007. To learn more about Cuyahoga County’s Healthy Start free health insurance program call 216-987-7346 or visit www.healthystart.cuyahogacounty.us .


For more information about local events, visit www.employment.cuyahogacounty.us/KHM.htm., or learn about Cover the Uninsured Week nationally by going to www.CoverTheUninsured.org. 






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