Tuesday, April 9th 2002
Honorable Max Baucus
Committee on Finance
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Mr. Chairman:
With broad bipartisan support in Congress there is an opportunity to increase access to appropriate and affordable health care for pregnant women and their infants this year.
The organizations listed below encourage the Committee on Finance to take up legislation this year that would give states the ability to enroll income eligible pregnant women in their State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP). Several bills now pending before the Finance Committee would provide states the option of using SCHIP funds for extending coverage to currently uninsured pregnant women 19 and older.
As you know, over the past several years the Senate Finance Committee has been instrumental in moving legislation that has improved access to health insurance through Medicaid and SCHIP. Despite this progress, a disproportionate number of women continue to lack access to affordable coverage.
Nearly one in six women of childbearing age (15-44) - or 11 million women - was uninsured in 2000, according to data prepared for the March of Dimes by the U.S. Census Bureau. These women accounted for 27 percent of all uninsured Americans. More than half of these women (59 percent) had family incomes below 200 percent of poverty. While more generous Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women has resulted in better rates of coverage for them than for women in general, room for improvement remains. In 1999, 13.4 percent of pregnant women (more than 420,000) were uninsured, an increase from 11 percent in 1990.
Several bills have been introduced which would, in part, give states the option of covering approximately 41,000 low-income pregnant women in SCHIP and to automatically enroll their newborns in the program. Following the order in which they were introduced and referred to the Finance Committee, they include:
- S. 724, the "Mothers and Newborns Health Insurance Act of 2001," which you cosponsored in the 106th Congress, is co-authored by Senators Bond and Breaux and cosponsored by Senators Cochran, Collins, Daschle, DeWine, Dodd, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln and Lott. This bill has the endorsement of the Administration, the National Governors' Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the twenty-five national organizations listed below.
- S. 1016, the "Start Healthy, Stay Healthy Act of 2002," co-authored by Senators Bingaman and Lugar and cosponsored by Senators Chafee, Corzine, Lincoln, Lugar, and McCain.
- S. 1244, the "FamilyCare Act of 2001," co-authored by Senators Kennedy and Snowe. In addition to you, this bill is cosponsored by Senators Bingaman, Breaux, Chafee, Clinton, Collins, Corzine, Daschle, Edwards, Graham, Kerry, Lincoln, Rockefeller, and Torricelli.
We look forward to working with you to broaden access to health insurance for uninsured pregnant women this year.
American Academy of Pediatrics
American College of Nurse Midwives
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians
American Hospital Association
American Medical Association
American Osteopathic Associations
American Public Health Association
Association of University Centers on Disabilities (formerly the American Association of University Affiliated Programs)
Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
Catholic Health Association
Council of Women's and Infants' Specialty Hospitals
Greater New York Hospital Association
March of Dimes
National Association of Children's Hospitals
National Association of Public Hospitals & Health Systems
National Association of County and City Health Officials
National Women's Health Network
Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Spina Bifida Association of America
The Guttmacher Institute
United Cerebral Palsy Association
cc: Democratic Members of the US Senate Committee on Finance