RWJF Statement on Signing of SCHIP Legislation

    • February 3, 2009

President Obama signed new SCHIP legislation at the White House yesterday.  Following is a statement from Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  The Foundation has been a leading private funder for research, implementation and enrollment around SCHIP and other coverage issues.

The signing of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) extends a vital safety net for millions of hard-working parents who either aren’t offered insurance for their children through their jobs, or can’t afford the coverage that is offered. 

Now that SCHIP is enacted, we need to get busy enrolling eligible kids.  The burden switches to state and local officials to ensure that there are no unnecessary procedural barriers for parents who want to enroll eligible kids in SCHIP or Medicaid.  All the national and local groups that effectively supported SCHIP during its reauthorization need to be just as passionate about helping to enroll eligible kids.

We also cannot lose sight of the tens-of-millions who are still uninsured in our nation.  This legislation is an important first step towards comprehensive health reform that will result in helping all Americans live healthier lives and get the care they need.

We at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are proud of our efforts - along-side many partners - to help families and policy-makers remove barriers to enrollment, so that millions more kids are covered.  Since SCHIP was first authorized in 1997, the Foundation has invested enormous resources and worked with partners in every state across the country to educate parents, to build and train local coalitions focused on enrollment and implementation, and to help state and local officials enroll eligible kids in SCHIP or Medicaid and keep them enrolled.

By including a 62-cent increase in the cigarette tax, the reauthorization will also lead to nearly two million fewer kids starting to smoke, help more than one million adult smokers quit, prevent nearly 900,000 smoking-caused deaths and produce $44.5 billion in long-term health care savings by reducing tobacco-caused health care costs.  Building on the power of prevention, the legislation also includes a $25 million grant program to reduce childhood obesity through community and school-based activities.

This new legislation expands the opportunity for us all to make American’s children healthier.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A.
President and CEO
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. The Foundation is the sponsor of Cover the Uninsured, the largest mobilization in history to create awareness of the need for action on the issue of the uninsured. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.