Legislation would help improve care for children on Medicaid with complex medical conditions and reduce national spending
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing today to discuss the bipartisan Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act of 2017 (ACE Kids Act, H.R. 3325). The ACE Kids Act would better coordinate and improve care for children with the most medically complex conditions who rely on Medicaid. It would also reduce spending by better coordinating care for these kids and allowing them to access multiple providers and services when needed in a more seamless way, even across state lines. The legislation is supported by numerous national organizations including the Children's Hospital Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, March of Dimes, American College of Cardiology and the Tricare for Kids Coalition.
Rick Merrill, president and CEO of Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth, Texas, and chair of the Children's Hospital Association Board of Trustees, noted in his testimony, "The ACE Kids Act is about fundamentally improving care for children with medical complexity in Medicaid, driving improvements in quality, and reducing program spending — all further strengthening the Medicaid program."
The potential for achieving Medicaid cost savings has been recently demonstrated through the national Coordinating All Resources Effectively (CARE) Award supported by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. The project — involving 10 children's hospitals, eight different state Medicaid programs, managed care plans and 42 primary care practices — implemented care coordination programs serving 8,000 children with medical complexity. Collectively, these programs reduced emergency department visits by 26 percent and reduced inpatient days by 32 percent. In just the first full year of operations coordinating care for these children, CARE ultimately reduced overall Medicaid costs by 2.6 percent while improving patient experience.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ACE Kids Act original co-sponsor, noted during the hearing, "If we can do something that provides better care, more comprehensive care, and actually saves money — that’s a win-win."
Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., ACE Kids Act original co-sponsor, added, "It’s really the families who are heroes here. It’s the families of these kids that have explained to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle how important it is to have coordinated care."
"It is crucial to remember that behind each of these data points is a real child and family," added Merrill, who accompanied the Beckwith family of Texas to Capitol Hill over the summer to advocate for the ACE Kids Act. Fourteen-year-old Alex and his 4-year-old sister, Maddy, both have mitochondrial disease and other ongoing conditions. Living with a serious condition without a cure, these two children routinely see a combined 15 specialists and have received care at children's hospitals inside and outside of Texas. Alex relies on Medicaid while his sister is on the Medicaid waitlist.
"Kids like Alex and Maddy are why Congress must act this year to pass the ACE Kids Act," said Mark Wietecha, president and CEO of Children's Hospital Association. "We thank Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess, and Ranking Member Gene Green, for bringing this crucial legislation before the Subcommittee, and are grateful for the tireless leadership of the bill's original co-sponsors Reps. Joe Barton, Kathy Castor, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Gene Green, Anna Eshoo and David Reichert. Thanks to these leaders' efforts, a bipartisan group of nearly 100 representatives have recognized that the ACE Kids Act is good for kids and the future of the nation."