Children’s Health On The Chopping Block|CHILD WATCH

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    in an ambulance.

    Healthy Families has made it possible for Alicia to manage Alexei’s prescription drugs, doctor visits, and emergency room visits and helped Anne-Marie through Constance’s eye injury.  But, in recent years, changes in the state budget for Healthy Families and California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal — including significant premium and co-payment increases — have been making it harder for families to get critical health care services for their children. Another round of cost-sharing increases in the state’s 2011-2012 budget will cause real and lasting hardship for families like the Skinners and the Alferezes, including the difficult decisions they will face if the co-payment for an emergency room visit increases to $50 per visit.

    These two families are among the millions across the country whose health coverage is “on the chopping block” twice over, once because of state budget cuts and a second time because of federal budget cuts. They all risk losing the affordable, comprehensive health coverage their children need to grow up healthy and strong. The U.S. House of Representatives approved an unfair and shortsighted budget that will assault vulnerable children and low income families. It would make deep cuts in Medicaid, shift more costs to states, and eliminate core protections for the 30 million children served by the program.  In 2013, it would de-fund the successful and cost effective Children’s Health Insurance Program these and many thousands of California families need.  All this at a time when 50 million Americans, including more than 8 million children, are uninsured.  The House budget would repeal health reform that would reach an additional 32 million people and 95 percent of all children during the next few years.  Children of color, who make up more than half of the children served by Medicaid, would fare worst and be placed at risk of preventable suffering, chronically poor health, and even death.  And, for what purpose? To pay for more tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals and corporations in America?

    President Obama said this last week about the House budget for 2012: “There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don’t think there’s anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill.  That’s not a vision of the America I know.”  If this is not the America you want, stand up, and speak up and say no!

    Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Washington-based Children’s Defense Fund.

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