Legislation was introduced in the Delaware General Assembly on Friday, February 11, 2022 that would ensure medical coverage would be available to all Delaware children, including undocumented immigrants.
State Representative Krista Griffith (D – Fairfax) is the lead sponsor of the Cover All Delaware Children Act.
“A Delaware resident child whose family income is low enough to qualify on that basis for Medicaid or CHIP, but who would otherwise not be eligible for federal programs due to their immigration status, will become eligible for program coverage. run by the state,” Griffith said.
Griffith said that for the coalition of advocates for health, education, community and justice for children, this legislation is personal.
“For years they have witnessed heartbreaking examples of what happens to a child when he or she does not have meaningful access to preventive care and treatment,” Griffith said.
Griffith, who served as assistant attorney general in the Justice Department during the Beau Biden and Matt Denn administrations, said the bill also had personal significance because of his son’s battle with leukemia.
“He was seeing doctors regularly, so our family was lucky that the doctors were able to immediately suspect, test and diagnose his cancer,” Griffith said. “I know that without access to preventative care and treatment, he would have died.”
State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Claymont) reiterated that all children should have access to basic medical coverage.
“Which, in my view, should not just be a privilege of circumstance, but a basic human right based on a basic human need,” McBride said.
The program was not included in Gov. John Carney’s budget recommendation, but McBride said there are long-term benefits to launching it now.
“We really believe that in the long run, this is not just a compassionate policy, but a fiscally responsible policy,” McBride said. “The reality for these children right now in terms of the limited scope of care they can access is an inefficient way to deliver health care to these young people.”
Griffith said it is estimated that up to a thousand children would enroll in the program in its first year, with an initial cost of at least $2 million.
“In the long term, by expanding coverage to ensure these young people are able to get the full range of health care needs, including preventive care, it will not only improve health outcomes for these children , but help reduce the costs of their treatment and overall healthcare costs,” McBride said.
Proponents of the bill said there were about 5,000 undocumented children in Delaware.
Legislation was referred to the Health and Human Development Committee.