The Honorable John D. Rockefeller, IV
531 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Rockefeller:
As organizations committed to improving the health and well-being of children and women, we are writing to thank you for your leadership on behalf of these important populations. As a result of enactment of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization (CHIPRA) in 2009, which gave states the option to provide Medicaid and CHIP coverage to lawfully present children and pregnant women within the 5-year bar, approximately half of states have seen the benefit of providing insurance coverage to this population of children and pregnant women. This provision was passed by strong bipartisan majorities in the both the Senate and House and is critical for the health and well-being of lawfully-residing children and pregnant women.
We thank you for championing this provision. Five years is a lifetime to a child. Pregnant women cannot wait 5 years for care. Timely coverage can mean the difference between preventing or treating conditions that can affect a child’s long-term prospects for a healthy, productive life, and leaving those conditions undetected and untreated. Prenatal care is essential to promoting positive health outcomes among women and preventing harmful and potentially life-threatening health complications. Babies born to mothers who received no prenatal care are three times more likely to be born at low birth weight, and five times more likely to die, than those whose mothers received prenatal care.
As Congress considers S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, it is vital that lawfully present children and pregnant women who qualify for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) or blue card status or obtain a V nonimmigrant visa be treated the same as other children and pregnant women who are lawfully present under current law.
All children should have the opportunity to grow up healthy, and all women should have access to prenatal care. Having health insurance coverage through CHIP and Medicaid means children are more likely to access preventive care, immunizations, and treatments for asthma, autism, and hearing impairments. With health coverage, pregnant women can access the routine care and screenings necessary to ensure a healthy pregnancy. RPI children and pregnant women are aspiring U.S. citizens. It is critical that under S. 744, they have the opportunity to access cost-effective, affordable insurance coverage just like other lawfully-residing children and pregnant women.
Every adult was once a child, but unfortunately, not every child has the opportunity to become an adult. We thank you for recognizing the public health and financial benefit of ensuring that children are able to grow up healthy, which starts by ensuring that women have healthy pregnancies.