Washington, D.C., May 1, 2007. A new poll released by the New England Alliance for Children’s Health (NEACH) found that nearly nine in ten voters favor expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover all uninsured children in their state. The support crossed political lines as majorities of Independents, Democrats and Republicans supported expanding SCHIP.
“New Englanders realize that children need health care to grow and learn,” said Amy Rosenthal of NEACH. “They see SCHIP as a successful program that can help children get the healthcare coverage they need.”
SCHIP is a federal-state partnership which provides low-cost health insurance to children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance. SCHIP is a major issue for the 110th U.S. Congress as the original ten-year authorization expires at the end of this fiscal year. NEACH is part of a broad national coalition supporting full-funding for SCHIP. They are urging Congress to fill existing shortfalls and to provide states with enough funding to continue to serve those already covered and reduce the number of uninsured children.
"We need to put kids first when setting our budget priorities," said Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) who joined NEACH and other organizations in calling for increased funding for SCHIP. "SCHIP is a successful federal-state partnership that states like Massachusetts count on to cover low-income children and we cannot allow Washington to renege on its end of the bargain,” said Sen. Kerry, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee which oversees SCHIP. “We can and must expand the program to as many of the 9 million uninsured American children as possible."
The survey found that support for increased funding stayed strong even when the price tag was attached. Seventy-eight percent of voters surveyed favored increasing funding by $8 billion. Only seven percent favored keeping funding at current levels, which would result in dropping children from the program.
Voters rejected the argument that there are other more important funding priorities and they disagreed that cutting taxes should take precedence over children’s health coverage. About three quarters of voters rejected both of these arguments, including majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, as well as voters of all income levels.
Nine in ten respondents agreed that SCHIP is an important program as fewer employers are providing healthcare coverage for workers and their families. An overwhelming majority — 92% of those surveyed — see SCHIP as a smart investment of taxpayer dollars as preventive healthcare helps avoid more costly emergency room care.
Nearly nine in ten favored offering affordable coverage to the low-income parents of children enrolled in SCHIP, if the parent’s job did not offer health insurance.
The telephone survey of 2,401 registered voters from all six New England states was conducted by Lake Research Partners between January 26 – February 8, 2007. Separate poll results were compiled for: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
The poll was funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, Connecticut Health Foundation, Endowment for Health, HNHfoundation, Maine Health Access Foundation, National Association of Children’s Hospitals, Rhode Island Foundation, and Vermont Community Foundation.
The New England Alliance for Children's Health is a regional coalition of consumers, health care providers, business leaders, educators, interfaith organizations and advocacy groups working to ensure that all children have access to high quality health care. The Alliance has been made possible with support from Children's Hospital Boston.