Video of Senator Murray's Remarks

The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) provides health insurance for qualifying infants, children and teens. In most states, uninsured children 18 years old and younger, whose families earn up to $34,100 a year (for a family of four) are eligible. Currently, 17 million children are covered under this program, yet an estimated $4 million children who are eligible are not covered.

On July 31, Senator Murray joined a grassroots coalition to launch a campaign to get kids the health care they need and deserve as they go back to school.


Remarks of Senator Patty Murray - Covering Kids and Families Press Conference

"I’m honored to be here today with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation -- and with so many families and leaders -- to help more children get the health care they need.

Years ago -- when my two kids were little -- I volunteered as a pre-school teacher in Shoreline, Washington. I really loved working in the classroom with those little kids as they began a lifetime of learning.

Actually, everything I needed to learn about being a U.S. Senator I learned teaching pre-school. I learned to treat others as you’d like to be treated, to make sure everyone has a chance to speak, and to never let the bullies win.

Another thing I’ve learned has stuck with me all these years. When kids came to my classroom with untreated medical problems, it affected everything about them – including their ability to learn. Unfortunately, many parents could not afford to take their kids to the doctor for a cold or an ear infection.

But we know that if you don’t treat those problems early, they get worse. Something as simple as an ear infection – if untreated – can develop into a serious hearing problem. That hearing problem can affect a child’s ability to understand sounds, to read, and to speak. Ultimately, that one small medical problem could end up preventing a child from reaching his or her full potential.

In America, we can’t let that happen to any child, and that’s why all of us are here today.

Back in 1997, I was pleased to work on the original legislation that created SCHIP. Today -- all over the country -- through SCHIP and Medicaid -- children are receiving the kind of care that will allow them to grow into healthy, productive adults.

And we know it works. Today those initiatives cover 17 million children. Those kids are one-and-a-half times MORE likely than uninsured kids to receive dental care, well-child and other office visits.

But there are still 8 million children without health insurance -- 8 million children who are being held back from reaching their full potential - including 150,000 in my home state of Washington. And what’s really a shame is that 4 million kids of those are eligible for insurance through SCHIP and Medicaid.

Unfortunately, many parents assume that since they’re working – they’re not eligible for help – but they are eligible. And we’ve got to make sure that those parents know their kids can get health care as they go back to school.

So parents, if you’re working, but your kids don’t have health insurance, call 1-877-KIDS-NOW. You can find out how to get health insurance for your kids -- because help is available.

In closing, I want to commend – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, grassroots coalitions, national organizations, corporate partners, and countless others -- who have worked so hard to cover kids.

You know, these days as United States Senator, I have an opportunity to visit many schools throughout Washington State and to watch so many children grow and learn.

The work you’re doing here today will help ensure that those kids – and all the children in classrooms across America – can reach their full potential. And I can’t think of anything more important for the future of our country.

Thank you."