MEDIA RELEASE: New report: NC Health Choice boosts economy and is a vital support for laid-off workers

The program leverages millions in matching federal dollars, stimulating the North Carolina economy and helping families

RALEIGH (June 23, 2009) - Investments in programs like NC Health Choice yield millions in federal matching dollars. Recognizing this, other states are expanding their children's health insurance programs despite budget deficits, a new report finds.

Under the recent State Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization, states are now eligible to receive a nearly 3 to 1 match in federal dollars when they invest in their state children's health insurance programs.  A study released today by the NC Justice Center finds that, even in this deep recession, other states are taking advantage of this and re-investing in their communities.

"States around the country are realizing now is precisely the time to ramp up support in their children's health insurance programs," said Louisa Warren, a senior policy advocate with the NC Justice Center and the report's author.  "It's a win for cash-strapped states and a win for families struggling to make ends meet in this downturn."

As legislative sessions wind down across the country, Warren's report finds, many states are seizing upon the opportunity to bring additional revenue into their budgets and are choosing to enact measures to increase enrollment, if not expand coverage, in their children's health insurance programs.  

NC Health Choice is North Carolina's children's health insurance program and budget leaders in the legislature are now trying to reconcile differences between the House and Senate proposals.  The House budget proposed cutting more than 30,000 kids off of NC Health Choice, while the Senate budget allotted funding for a 12% increase in NC Health Choice enrollment.

"As lawmakers work to craft a final budget during a tremendously difficult year, they should turn their attention to programs like NC Health Choice," said Warren.  "A small investment will mean millions pumped into local economies and parents will be able to ensure that their kids have health insurance even in hard times."

The full report can be accessed online at http://www.ncjustice.org/?q=node/329

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Louisa Warren, 919.856.2183.