Senators Collins and Snowe
United States of America

*9 million children in America-1 in 9- are uninsured. A child is born uninsured every 39 seconds.

*Currently approximately two-thirds of the uninsured children are eligible for health coverage under Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) but are not enrolled; excessive enrollment barriers are often the cause.

*In January 2009, Congress acted to expand CHIP and enroll more children in coverage. This legislation was necessary to prevent more children from losing health coverage in the economic downturn, but it still leaves 5-6 million children uninsured.

*Children are subjected to the "lottery of geography" - whether they get coverage and what kind of benefits they may receive depends upon the state in which they live.

*Roughly 800,000 pregnant women are uninsured.

*Approximately 28,000 children die each year in America before their first birthday- ranking the U.S. 25th among 30 industrialized countries.

*Almost a quarter of two-year-olds are not fully immunized.

*The majority of uninsured children live in two-parent families

*Almost 90 percent have one parent who works.

*Almost 90 percent are U.S. citizens.

*Health insurance premiums for families have risen more than three times as fast as wages since 2001 at the same time that fewer employees are providing coverage for employees.

We, the undersigned, ask that Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, of the state of Maine, take action in support of guaranteeing every child and pregnant woman comprehensive health and mental health coverage in America.

1. Coverage must be affordable: Establish a national eligibility floor of 300 percent of the federal poverty level for all children and pregnant women, with an affordable buy-in based on a family's income for those over that income level.

2. Benefits must be comprehensive: Guarantee every child access to all medically necessary services to maximize a child's health and development.

3. The system must be simple and seamless: To ensure children get enrolled and stay enrolled:

*A short, simple application form must be uniformly used and barriers such as asset and resource tests must be eliminated.

*Automatic enrollment- Children identified as income eligible in other programs, such as the National School Lunch Program or food stamps, should be automatically enrolled in health coverage. Additionally, critical junctures such as birth, annual enrollment in school, and health visits must all be used ot enroll uninsured children in health coverage unless the parent declines enrollment.

*Presumptive eligibility-An uninsured child should be presumed eligible for coverage when he or she sees a provider, rather than waiting until an application for enrollment is processed.

*12-month continuous enrollment with automatic renewal-Children's coverage should be guaranteed for a full year regardless of family income changes.

*Self-declaration of income- States should verify a family's income electronically when possible rather than requiring the family to provide proof of income.

*Prohibit waiting lists, enrollment caps and other barriers that delay or limit enrollment.

*Ensure culturally and linguistically sensitive outreach to inform families of benefits for which they are eligible.

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The Support comprehensive healthcare for children and pregnant women in America petition to Senators Collins and Snowe was written by websta000 and is in the category Health at GoPetition.