Uninsured Children

Every 47 seconds a child is born in the United States uninsured, according to the Children’s Defense Fund. At this moment nine million children are not covered by Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Most live in families with two working parents. It’s a national disgrace that 11.6% of all children in the United States are not provided adequate health care. One of the richest nations in the world cannot find the resources to care for its children but can manage to pump $200 million a day into war, at a rate of $100,000 per minute.

Having lost the debate on SCHIP renewal and expansion in the legislature, the current administration is putting into place requirements that make it difficult if not impossible for states to meet in order to qualify for funds. This will limit the availability of funds to cover uninsured children. A good backgrounder on the issue is available at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website. Information is also available at the Urban Institute website.

From the perspective of Christian teaching, this is a fundamental issue for several reasons but two stand out. First is the clear statement by Jesus in Matthew 18:5 that when we receive and care for children it is as if we are receiving and caring for Jesus himself. But there is a second important teaching that cuts through all the Christian sacred texts and that is the call to serve. The Christian gospels carry a steady call to live a life of diakonia, or service. Jesus’ teaching about receiving children is related to protecting the innocent and serving their needs. I don’t see any exceptions in this teaching–no small print that says you care only for those whose family income is at the poverty line and not those parents in a family of four who earn 200 per cent above poverty level.

There’s just this simple statement: Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Here are some ways to take action:

Children’s Defense Fund

General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church

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