Press Release

Gillibrand Pushes Historic Bill to Provide Health Coverage to All Children 23 and Under

May 1, 2009

Washington, D.C. – In a historic move to reform the U.S. health care system, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today joined in the introduction of the Medikids Health Insurance Act. This legislation would provide health care coverage to all middle and low-income kids and young people up to age 23 starting next year. Medikids builds on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), providing no-cost or low-cost health insurance for all children by 2015.

“Getting everyone covered with affordable, comprehensive health care is a national priority and a moral responsibility,” Senator Gillibrand said. “As a mother of two young boys, I know how important it is to secure health insurance for all children. This commonsense bill is the right step to cover all young people. When we get everyone covered, we’ll ensure better health, provide better opportunities toward a bright future for our kids and young adults, and reduce the costs of care for all of us.”

Expansions in Medicaid and CHIP have helped cover more of America’s low-income families – reducing the amount of uninsured children by 15 percent. But the challenging economic times and the high costs of care threaten to undercut progress and swell the number of uninsured children. Young adults who are too old for CHIP and ineligible for Medicaid are often left uninsured.

Under the Medikids Health Insurance Act, children would be automatically enrolled in Medikids at birth. Children with access to private insurance or who are eligible for the CHIP or Medicaid are free to stay in those programs. And for periods of time between jobs or sudden changes in income, Medikids would automatically fill this gap in coverage – providing affordable health care for each and every child.

Beginning next year, families below 150 percent of the poverty level would have access to care with no premiums or co-pays. Families living between 150 and 300 percent of the poverty level would have a graduated premium up to 5 percent of their income and a graduated refundable tax credit for cost-sharing. Families above 300 percent of the poverty level would pay a small premium equivalent to one fourth of the average annual cost per child. There is no cost sharing for preventive or well-child care for any children. Children are notably inexpensive to insure, but the rewards for providing them with health care during their early education and development years are enormous – providing a foundation for better opportunities for a bright future.

Senator Gillibrand joined her colleague Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, sponsoring the Medikids Health Insurance Act – endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Families USA, the National Association of Community Health Centers and the March of Dimes.

As a mother of two young sons, Senator Gillibrand knows what families are facing in these tough economic times. And she knows how important it is to get all kids covered. That’s why she is a dedicated voice for fixing the broken health care and getting every man, woman and child covered with affordable health care. One of her first moves as a Senator was to stand with President Obama to reauthorize CHIP – providing comprehensive, affordable care for 11 million middle and low income children nationwide.