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New Grassroots Initiative Seeks to End Trend of Texas As Last for Children’s Health Care

Resource type: News

Texas Care for Children | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

AUSTIN – For over a decade now, Texas has been the state with the nation’s highest rate of uninsured children, but today a grassroots start-up is launching with the promise to end the trend by instead “building a legacy of healthy children.”  With legislators weighing deep cuts to health programs and deadlines approaching for implementation of the new national health care law, advocates behind the new initiative called, KidsWell Texas, seek to build a movement that will deliver affordable, quality health care for all Texas children by 2015. 

KidsWell Texas will be the first broad-based initiative of its kind in Texas to organize thousands of parents of children on CHIP and Medicaid, alongside other concerned residents, in an effort to ensure more kids can see a doctor. The initiative is funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and led by Engage Texas, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Children’s Defense Fund – Texas and Texans Care for Children. The latter three groups have worked together with state policymakers and fellow advocates in the Texas CHIP Coalition since 2006 to increase health care coverage for children. Since 2007, more than 865,000 Texas children have gained Children’s Medicaid or CHIP health care.  

“KidsWell Texas is exciting because it is lifting up the voices of those Texans who need health insurance the most,” said Donna Lawrence, Program Director for Children and Youth at The Atlantic Philanthropies. “This is the kind of grassroots, bottom-up movement we’re seeing all over the country – people demanding their fair share and speaking up for coverage for their children.   With today’s launch, the campaign also released “ Texans Have Priorities for Our State,” a publication about budgetary choices the state faces. Nearly 9 out of 10 Texas voters oppose cuts to children’s health care programs, according to a February poll from the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas. In fact, protecting health care for children was found to be more popular in Texas than protecting funds for highway construction or prisons, and roughly tied with support for preserving border security and education resources. In the weeks and months ahead, KidsWell Texas will also conduct a statewide community organizing and public education campaign to ensure Texans’ priorities, such as health care for children, receive more attention from lawmakers.  

“There is still time this legislative session for Texas to avoid breaking a promise to children in the CHIP and Medicaid programs,” said Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “KidsWell Texas will help bring together the Texans who believe in that promise—that if you qualify for health care and you are a child, you should be able to see a doctor. Right now, state leaders can stand up and be forward-thinking about what we want for the health and future of this state. And every-day Texans can stand up and join this campaign to demand some change for Texas kids.”

Kidswell Texas is an Atlantic grantee.

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