For Immediate Release
September 10, 2009
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WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) President Marian Wright Edelman issued the following statement in response to the Census Bureau’s release of data showing that, in 2008, 8.1 million children were uninsured and 14.1 million children lived in poverty.
“Today’s Census data show that there are 8.1 million uninsured children in America. This new information only underscores why health reform must guarantee that every child in America can easily access comprehensive, affordable health coverage. We know that investing in preventive services for children and addressing their health needs now is far more cost-effective than ignoring them. Communities incur increased costs when their children are not insured, often because of increased use of emergency rooms and longer hospital stays. For example, an uninsured child can cost the community as much as $2,100 more than a child covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
“In this economic downturn it is no surprise that the number of children in poverty has skyrocketed. The number of children living in poverty increased by nearly 750,000 to 14.1 million—with poverty being defined as a family of four with an annual income less than $22,050—and the number of children living in extreme poverty—defined as children living in a family of four having an annual income of less than $11,025—also increased by over 500,000 to 6.3 million children. This is the biggest increase in child poverty since 1992, showing that the recession has had a deep impact on our country’s children.
“It is more important than ever to reweave our national safety net. When parents lose their jobs, children and their families should be able to access the health coverage, unemployment benefits, and early childhood development programs that they need. 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.”
Unlike the Census Bureau, the Children’s Defense Fund includes 18-year-olds in their estimated number of uninsured children because both the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid cover children through age 18; this accounts for any discrepancy between CDF and Census Bureau figures.