The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Please support bipartisan effort for children's health insurance

Posted on October 05, 2007 at 03:18 AM

“Please Support Bipartisan Effort for Children’s Health Insurance, and Praise for Rep. Emerson’s Leadership”

October 4, 2007

We support the $35 billion expansion of children’s health insurance and commend Members of Congress from both parties, including Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), who voted in favor of this legislation that is so important for thousands of children in the eight-state Delta region. We would ask our Congressional representatives throughout the region from both parties to override the President’s veto of this important legislation.

Rep. Emerson is a very fine Republican Member of Congress and is admired by many people of both parties in our region, and we would hope everybody would follow her example and support this very meritorious legislation. We have enormous health care problems in the Delta and we need to support efforts like this to do something about it.

Dr. Martha Ellen Black, executive director of the Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in southeast Missouri and Missouri coordinator for the Delta Caucus, said she supports this legislation and totally agrees with Rep. Emerson’s position.

Many health care experts in the region, such as Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, have supported this expansion in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. This organization’s Federal Budget Director, Dr. Ronald White, has spoken at Delta Grassroots Caucus conferences and written compelling articles stating the case for why this needs to be done. The legislation would allocate $60 billion over five years to cover approximately 9 to 10 million children, an increase from the 6 million who are now enrolled.

Just as an illustration of the impact of this legislation in one of the Delta states, this veto would have a negative impact on tens of thousands of Arkansas families who rely on SCHIP to provide health care for their children through the ARKids First program. About 80,000 children are enrolled in ARKids First now, but this legislation would enable the program to reach 45,000 more uninsured children. We agree with Gov. Mike Beebe and US Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln in supporting this legislation.

We would emphasize that many thougtful Republicans supported this measure, including Rep. Emerson from Missouri and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who said, “Look, I disagree with the [White House] legislative staff on all of this. Frankly, I think the President has had pretty poor advice on this. I can answer every objection that they’ve made, and I’m very favorable to the President. I know he’s compassionate. I know he’s concerned about these kids, but he’s been sold a bill of goods.”

We would emphasize the bipartisan origins of this program, which was created as a federal-state partnership in the late 1990s by the Republican majority in Congress at that time and the Clinton administration.

The program was designed to aid children from families with incomes that were too large to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford their own coverage. Federal funding was placed at a fixed amount, but states were given a large amount of flexibility in how to organize the programs. Most states placed children in private insurance plans, but some chose to cover uninsured children in middle-class families and some low-income adults. This legislation would move adults in the children’s program over to Medicaid, and it would set up barriers to states trying to cover uninsured children in families with more than three times the federal poverty level, or $62,000.

This is a good program for the Delta’s children and we commend those leaders like Congresswoman Emerson of Missouri who support it. Thanks very much–Lee Powell, Executive Director, MDGC (202) 360-6347