Call for health coverage for women of childbearing age and children

Dr. Marina L. Weiss, senior vice president, public policy and government affairs of the March of Dimes, made the following statement as the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing entitled "Charting a Course for Health Care Reform: Moving Toward Universal Coverage".

"The March of Dimes thanks the Chairman and Members of the Committee for bringing attention to this important issue. The Foundation believes all women of childbearing age and children should have access to health coverage. The Foundation's mission to prevent birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality can best be fulfilled if women of childbearing age have the health coverage that enables them to receive essential health services when they need them.

"An analysis of 2005 Census data conducted for the March of Dimes tells us that 1 in 5 women of childbearing age (28% of uninsured Americans) lacked coverage. The 2005 data is the latest in a series that shows the number of uninsured women of childbearing age has continued to rise from 12.1 million in 2002 to 12.9 million in 2005. These statistics are particularly alarming because, as the Institute of Medicine has found, uninsured women receive fewer prenatal services and that health insurance coverage is essential to ensure that pregnant women have access to the medical care they need.

"With respect to uninsured children, the Census Bureau data also tell us that 9 million (nearly 12%) of children in this country lacked health coverage in 2005, an increase of over 300,000 over the prior year and the first increase since 1998. Being uninsured means that children are almost twice as likely to go without preventive care services -- including immunizations -- essential to avoiding more serious, long-term health problems.

"March of Dimes volunteers and staff across the nation are working to expand access to health coverage. We look forward to the recommendations of the distinguished witnesses at this hearing and to supporting the Chairman and Members of the committee in their efforts to improve health coverage for women, infants and children."

The March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For more information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org for Spanish language information.

http://www.marchofdimes.com and http://nacersano.org/

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