Healthcare for uninsured children is up for Congressional debate

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Rachel Beavin

This year, the 110th Congress will decide whether to reauthorize funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program or SCHIP.

It was enacted 10-years-ago to provide medical care for 10 million uninsured children.

Thursday, St. Mary's Medical Center hosted a town hall and forum on this important health issue.

St. Mary's was one of 35 hospitals around the country taking part in a town hall meeting via live satellite broadcast to address the problems of the 9 million U.S. children currently uninsured.

Evansville certainly has its share.

Health Service Supervisor Diana Butler says the Evansville Vanderburgh County School Corporation is dealing with issues its never addressed before.

It's not uncommon for once premature babies to grow up and need GI tube feedings, urinary catheters and ventilators in school.

BSN Diana Butler with the EVSC says, "We do have a large number of our students who receive medication for ADHD, for depression and also anxiety disorders. That's, over the last couple of years, has been increasing as well."

Clinical Director Carol Collier-Smith says one day this week ECHO Community Healthcare got 117 calls of residents needing acute care, 37 of them were children.

Many were sent to the emergency room.

If Congress reauthorizes the State Children's Health Insurance Program, called Hoosier Healthwise in Indiana, more children could have a primary care physician.

Ann Alley from the State Office of Medicaid says Indiana has a lot to lose, "Without reauthorization, if the SCHIP program was not reauthorized, Indiana would lose about $75 million a year."

The panelists urge the public to contact U.S. Lawmakers and tell them to reauthorize SCHIP.

Dr. Maria del Rio-Hoover says reauthorization is not enough,"It's not just good enough to reauthorize. They need to reauthorize and fund."

The money will help Indiana's 163,000 uninsured children, from newborns to teenagers, enough to fill nearly 3,000 school buses.