STATEMENT
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
March 11, 1999
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Aggressive CHIP Plan Will Give Texas Kids a Healthy Start
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Statement of Senator Rodney Ellis

AUSTIN -- "I would like to take this opportunity to praise Senator Moncrief for his leadership on this issue, and for doing all that he has to come up with the best possible plan to provide health insurance for Texas children. Your dedication and deep commitment to this issue will make a real difference in the lives of Texas children.

"As a co-sponsor of SB 445, the Children's Health Insurance Plan outlined in this legislation will be an historic step toward providing a healthy start for Texas children. I hope, however, that this legislation will be a beginning and not an end, because there are still many more families in Texas that need our help.

"From Austin to Amarillo, Houston to Harlingen, 1.4 million Texas children -- 1-in-4 -- lack access to health insurance of any kind. Nearly 90 percent of these children are in families where at least one parent is working full-time. Studies have shown that these kids struggle more in school. The same studies have shown that parents with uninsured kids miss work more often, and are less productive. CHIP will make a real difference in the lives of these families. Parents will not have to decide between taking a sick child to the doctor and paying the bills this month. That is a huge burden that we can lift off the shoulders of Texas parents.

"As strong as this plan is, I believe we must make covering families up to 200 percent of poverty a priority, and make it happen as soon as possible. I know that is Senator Moncrief's goal, and the goal of many other Senators.

"The bottom line is that we can afford to go to 200 percent for all kids right now. Covering families of four up to $32,900 a year will cost us less than $9 million this year, and less than $30 million next year. That is an investment in our children's future we must make. Parents in my district are very aware of our budget strength. They know we have a $2 or $3 or $4 billion surplus, and an additional $17 billion in tobacco funds coming in. Telling them we don't have the money to cover more kids is like slapping them in the face. We need to do all that we can to cover as many kids as we can, as soon as we can.

"New Jersey is covering kids up to 300 percent; Florida and California 200 percent; Minnesota 280 percent. If we can't find the will to invest in our children today, when times are good, when will we?

"Senator Moncrief, again, thank you for your leadership on this issue. I look forward to working with you to provide health insurance to even more Texas children.

"Mr. President, I support SB 445 and urge all my colleagues to vote in favor."

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