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Lawmakers Applaud Child Insurance Initiative

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RALEIGH — Seventy-one thousand children in our state have no health insurance. State lawmakers are holding a special session to do something about the problem.

Everyone is in favor of giving health insurance to children who are uninsured. These are kids whose parents are not qualified for Medicaid, but can afford private insurance. The problem is, Republicans and Democrats have a different opinion over how the program should be implemented.

Democratic legislators enthusiastically raised their hands Tuesday morning at a rally to show their support for the governor's plan. Representatives from civic groups and community leaders also turned out to encourage law makers to vote for the plan.

"Children are our future," says Raleigh resident Louise Antony. "They have no say in who their parents are, what their parents do. It seems obvious that children are the responsibility of an entire society."

The governor's plan promises to cover 71,000 kids who are no insured. That's in families making up to 200% of the federal poverty level or $32,000 for a family of four. Their only cost, a small co-payment.

Republicans want premiums and a waiting period, so the debate, especially in the House, is likely to be intense.

"I want them to come in and do the right thing," Governor Hunt explains. "Forget the politics, and do the right thing for the children. I'm hopeful."

Senator Bill Martin (D--Guilford County) believes the measure will pass in the Senate today before moving over to the House. Martin hopes the House will have the "good sense" to pass it too.

This plan would cost North Carolina $29 million dollars a year. In return, the state would get $79 million dollars a year in federal funding. With the debate in the House strengthening, it's likely arguments could go on throughout the week.


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