For Immediate Release
August 26, 2008
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WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) President Marian Wright Edelman issued the following comments in response to the Census Bureau’s release of data showing that in 2007 nearly 9 million children were uninsured and 13.3 million children lived in poverty.
Today’s Census data sound yet another loud alarm about how far off course our country remains in providing a just and moral society for all of America’s children. It is unconscionable that in our nation—the richest in the world—nearly 9 million children are uninsured. Millions more remain at risk of being uninsured amid today’s faltering economy, with insurance premiums having risen four times as fast as wages since 2001. If all children in America had access to affordable and comprehensive health coverage, every one of us would benefit from a healthier society. It could also save money: In one community in Texas, for instance, the $100 it costs to treat a child with a mild asthma attack at a doctor’s office increases to $7,300 when a child goes untreated and is admitted to the hospital through the emergency room.
“Today we also see that 13.3 million children are living in poverty in America—an increase of 500,000 from 2006—5.8 million of whom live in extreme poverty. And while these figures are appalling in America’s $13 trillion economy, they are likely to increase next year when the data fully reflect the effects of the nation’s economic downturn. If we worked to eradicate child poverty, it would improve the lives of every one of us: Each year that we keep children in poverty costs our nation half a trillion dollars in lost productivity, higher crime and poorer health. It is time for each one of us to commit ourselves to ending child poverty in every corner of America. We can do this through investments such as high quality education for every child, livable wages for families and income supplements like the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits.
These statistics should alarm every voter in America. In this election year, every one of us must listen to what candidates say they will do for children—and then we must hold them accountable. We must demand that our leaders commit to children as a condition of our vote.”
Unlike the Census Bureau, the Children’s Defense Fund includes 18-year-olds in their estimated number of uninsured children because both the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and Medicaid cover children through age 18; this accounts for any discrepancy between CDF and Census Bureau figures.