New bill will give more children access to health care

Print More

(Host) More children in Vermont will have access to health care under legislation approved by the U.S. House.

Congressman Peter Welch says the bill is the first step by the new Congress to provide universal access to health care to all Americans.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Vermont has one of the lowest rates of uninsured children in the country -the rate is roughly 3 % – some states have rates as high as 15%. This bill could cut the Vermont rate to less than 1%.

The legislation provides additional funding by increasing the income eligibility cap for the federal children’s health care program to 300 % of poverty – that’s roughly 61 thousand dollars for a family of four.

According to the latest state survey, roughly 4,000 children in Vermont don’t have access to health care.

Dian Kahn is the state director of health care analysis and data management. She says this new bill could provide coverage to 80% of these kids.

Kahn says that Vermont has been able to achieve its low rate of uninsured children for a variety of reasons:

(Kahn) "Probably the participation of providers at health care facilities when children come in for treatment and they’re not insured they make efforts to enroll them and plus there’s been a lot of outreach through the program to get kids enrolled and that’s been a longstanding effort in Vermont to get children enrolled in insurance."

Congressman Peter Welch is a strong supporter of the new bill:

(Welch) "These children are going to have the care that they need they’ll see a doctor when they need to see a doctor secondly it’s a real indication that times have changed as the result of the elections people made a decision this legislation was vetoed twice last year it’s going to pass in the Senate as well as the House we won’t have that gridlock over there and it’s going to be signed immediately by our new president so I think it’s signal of things to come."

(Kinzel) Welch says he expects that the new Congress will also consider legislation to expand health care access to all families:

(Welch) "This is a Congressional down payment on the path to I think much more comprehensive health care reform obviously it’s important to insure kids but it’s really important that families have health care security and that has not been on the agenda down in Washington really for the past 8 years it’s a very very difficult problem but you don’t even begin to solve it until its first and foremost on the agenda."

(Kinzel) Welch says backers of the bill are hoping to have it on President-elect Obama’s desk by the end of the month.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

Comments are closed.