Pres. Obama shakes hands ahead of the 2013 State of the Union. (Photo: White House)
Children’s Health Fund applauds President Barack Obama for devoting a great part of his State of the Union address to a vision of equality and opportunity for all Americans.
We are encouraged by his call to raise the minimum wage to help working families teetering on the edge of poverty. We applaud his continued backing of universal pre-K to help kids get a leg up during the critical formative years of their lives. And we agree fully with the president when he reminds us of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act – especially for so many of the most vulnerable families in our nation.
As much as we stand behind the president’s eloquent appeal to lift Americans out of poverty, however, the reality is that millions of families face a long hard climb to achieve financial security – and significant new challenges continue to be placed before them.
Just one day before the president took the podium, Congress finalized a deal on the farm bill that will cut $8 billion from the SNAP (food stamp) program. As the bill has already passed the House and looks likely to become law, we hope that, going forward, the president will use every means in his power to help struggling Americans affected by these cuts.
And while we praise the president’s call to get the long-stalled immigration bill moving again, we urge the president and Congress to ensure that deliberations on the bill acknowledge the importance of giving immigrant children, regardless of their status, access to the affordable, comprehensive health care services provided by the Affordable Care Act.
Unfortunately the president’s speech did not explicitly rally the nation to make children a national priority. However, Children’s Health Fund recognizes the need for administration and congressional collaboration and commitment to ensure that safety net programs focused on the health and wellbeing of children, such as CHIP and Medicaid, receive the necessary attention and support to fulfill their critical missions.
As President Obama stated, “We believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being.” At Children’s Health Fund, we have been working for over a quarter of a century to make those words a reality by helping children stay healthy so they can go to school ready to learn and have a chance to reach their fullest potential. We will continue to press our leaders in Washington to stand by those words as well. And on Thursday, April 10, we will once again stand on Capitol Hill shoulder to shoulder with health care leaders and our supporters to call for policies that truly improve the lives of children and families in need.