May 2, 2006                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton


      Healthy Kids Will Become Healthy Adults
      Understanding that healthy kids grow up to be healthy adults, John Morrison is urging eligible Montana families to take advantage of the Children's Health Insurance Program.  CHIP is a partnership between the federal and state governments that helps provide children with the health coverage they need to grow up healthy and strong by providing eligible children with coverage for a full range of health services including regular checkups, immunizations, and more. There are currently more than 1,000 openings for children in the CHIP program. 
      "It is troubling to know that children are not receiving the health care they need. They're even missing out on annual checkups that would prevent them from developing more serious medical conditions down the road," said Morrison. "We owe it to the parents of these children to let them know that coverage is available for many uninsured children."
      A measure backed by Morrison and the healthcare community was passed in the 2005 session to fully fund CHIP, the first time it had happened in Montana's history.  The program was allocated a significant increase in order to cover an additional 3,000 children. 
      By fully funding CHIP, the state also was able to maximize matching funds allotted for CHIP from the federal government, a large portion of which were left on the table in previous years.  For each dollar the state invests in CHIP, the federal government provides a matching $4. Those federal dollars, in turn, serve to reduce the burden on Montana policyholders who end up paying to provide health care to those uninsured children in their local hospital emergency rooms.
      "All of Montana 's children deserve affordable health care coverage. Yet every day Montana families with uninsured children are unnecessarily forced to make hard choices in caring for their kids," said Morrison.   "These sacrifices have far-reaching consequences for the 40,000 Montana children who lack health insurance.
      Fortunately, many children in Montana are eligible for coverage through CHIP.  During 'Cover the Uninsured Week' we hope to inform more parents that CHIP openings are available which will help them improve their children's health and quality of life."
      "CHIP is good for the children, it's good for the Montana economy, and it helps control the cost of health insurance for all of us, it just makes sense," Morrison said.  "Your child may be eligible for low cost or nearly free health care coverage.  Even if you're unsure if your family is eligible, I urge Montana families to apply for the program."