Congress Must Fully Fund Children's Health Insurance
Statement of Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews
Pastor of Grace Baptist Church, San Jose, California
On behalf of the PICO National Network
"Tomorrow, the Senate Finance Committee meets to consider 2007 shortfalls in the State Children's Health Insurance Program. We urge our elected leaders to take care of the least among us and provide health insurance for every child.
"One week ago, Americans voted for change. Many Democrats ran on a health care agenda, and providing health insurance for every child is the right place to start. There are nine million uninsured children in this country. If our leaders stand up and do what's right, we can take care of all our children and raise the healthiest generation in American history.
"We take as our example the prophet Jeremiah who lamented for his people of Judah.
"Grieving over their poor condition, he cried out: 'Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?'
"We ask these same questions of our elected leaders. Is there no balm in Washington, D.C.? Is there no solution there? Why then has the health of our poor children not been restored?
"We ask today and we will continue to ask until Congress understands that children's health care is a core moral value. The first step is covering the shortfalls in SCHIP for 2007. [PICO will soon release state-by-state data on the number of children who are at risk of losing coverage if SCHIP shortfalls are not filled.]
"The next step is full funding for SCHIP when it comes up for five-year reauthorization later next year. Over the next several months, we will work at the state level to ask our governors and state officials to put pressure on Washington, D.C. to expand SCHIP. Our 1,000 congregations representing 50 denominations and one million families are going to make sure that Congress understands that we will accept nothing less than coverage of every child."
With more than 1,000 congregations representing 50 denominations and one million families in 150 cities and 18 states, PICO National Network is one of the largest community-based efforts in the United States.