2006-07-14 / Community

Senator Smith Proposes Health Insurance For All Kids

There is no excuse why any of the 500,000 uninsured children in New York should be without proper health care. Senator Malcolm A. Smith knows this, and is pushing to make health insurance a reality for all kids.

Smith recently proposed plans to provide affordable health insurance and lower prescription drug prices to uninsured children, as well as fight the increasing asthma levels in low-income areas.

"Treatable and preventable childhood illnesses often go undiagnosed in low-income, uninsured families," Smith explained. He added, "If we don't help our kids to get medical care now, chances are we will be paying more later on for emergency room visits and hospital care."

One proposal seeks to create a subsidized layer to Child Health Plus that only requires a $50 premium per child, up to a maximum of $150.

In order to prevent the debilitating effects of asthma, all uninsured newborn and children asthmatics in high-incidence neighborhoods will be enrolled into Medicaid to guarantee them crucial care.

"When childhood conditions like asthma, iron-deficiency anemia, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder go untreated, they can lead to lifelong adverse effects on health and education.

More kids with health coverage means a healthier head start," according to Senator Smith.

Another proposal by Smith will cut 30% off current prescription drug retail prices, which will benefit the uninsured New Yorkers who pay roughly twice as much as the insured for prescription drugs. Similar to a plan used in Maine, the proposal will include manufacturers rebates and pharmacy discounts.

Also being discussed by Smith is the passage of S. 5581, leading to the creation of a toll-free hotline to find the cheapest prescription drugs in any area. The hotline will be helpful to all New Yorkers, as the current prices of prescription drugs vary greatly within a given location.

As Smith explained, "In New York City, for instance, the asthma drug Singulair costs between $87 to $165 depending on the pharmacy filling the prescription. Right now, comparison price shopping takes considerable time and effort."

Though these bills have not yet been passed by the Legislature, Smith and his colleagues will keep fighting for them.

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