Child health insurance is O'Malley focus



Mayor Martin O'Malley said yesterday that if elected governor, he would make health insurance more accessible to children in low-income families by improving the enrollment efforts of existing state programs.

After meeting with dozens of children at a Police Athletic League center in Northeast Baltimore, O'Malley and his running mate, Del. Anthony G. Brown, said Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. does not do enough to enroll uninsured children in a state health assistance plan.

O'Malley noted statistics from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation showing that 9 percent of Maryland's 1.5 million children are uninsured, a percentage that is higher than 17 other states, including Alabama.

"We can not content ourselves to be ranked behind Alabama," O'Malley said.

The mayor said the state could register more youngsters in the Maryland Children's Health Program by improving outreach efforts, devising simplified procedures and allowing for fast-track enrollment when families sign up for other public-aid programs.

Ehrlich campaign spokeswoman Shareese N. DeLeaver said O'Malley's weeklong unveiling of campaign promises about health care has been an attempt to deflect attention from crime and education in Baltimore.

"It's time for the O'Malley camp to run on his record ... and put an end to these paper-napkin announcements," she said. "It's easy to announce feel-good general concepts like `health care for all' without outlining how you're going to pay for it."

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