WASHINGTON, D.C. – Children’s hospitals’ patients, many with complex medical conditions, and their families will meet with members of Congress this week during Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day
, July 12-13, 2017. Chief among their priorities is to implore Congress to protect health care coverage for the more than 30 million children who are covered by Medicaid. The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) puts children’s health care coverage at risk through severe cuts to Medicaid.
“The Medicaid program is essential to millions of children, especially the two million kids with complex medical conditions who need comprehensive coverage to meet their unique needs,” said Mark Wietecha, president and CEO of the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA). “But statistics tell only half the story. That’s why children and their families from children’s hospitals across the country will share their stories directly with members of Congress, so legislators can hear firsthand how vital Medicaid is to their well-being. In many cases, Medicaid helps save young lives.”
Wesley Ethridge was only 6 days old when he underwent his first of five heart surgeries at Boston Children’s Hospital. At 18 months of age, Wesley received a heart transplant and with it, the ability to live a life of adventure. Now as a joyful 3-year-old and proud Mainer, Wesley has hiked the hills of Big Sur, canoed beneath the shadow of Katahdin, steered across the waters of the Atlantic, and traversed the country by plane, train, and automobile.
Wesley received the right care at the right time and in the right place thanks to the Medicaid program. He is one of more than 114,000 children in Maine who count on Medicaid for their health care coverage and benefits. Boston Children’s Hospital, like most children’s hospitals across the nation, is a regional provider and regularly treats children from neighboring states who seek the highly specialized care only children’s hospitals provide. On average, children’s hospitals devote more than half their inpatient days of care (59 percent) to children assisted by Medicaid.
Under the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) and Senate’s BCRA, funding for children’s Medicaid would be slashed by at least $43 billion over 10 years. An analysis of the AHCA by Avalere Health
found Maine, for example, would absorb over $280 million of that cut to children’s Medicaid funding while Massachusetts, home to Boston Children’s Hospital, stands to lose over $700 million. Compared to the House AHCA reform bill, the Senate version calls for even steeper cuts to Medicaid by restricting Medicaid’s funding to a slower growth rate starting in 2025.
“At their core, these bills represent a major step backward for children’s health and further weakens Medicaid for pediatric health care,” said Wietecha. “Congress should not consider any legislation undermining health care for tens of millions of children. Children’s hospitals across the country call on senators to reject the BCRA and vote no. It’s a bad bill for kids.”
According to children’s hospitals, Congress should be working to improve the effectiveness of Medicaid for children through thoughtful reform. A bipartisan bill introduced this year by lead cosponsors Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., the Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act of 2017 (S. 428)
, would improve care for children like Wesley with the most medically complex and expensive conditions in Medicaid while reducing spending through coordination of care across multiple providers and services, and easing of access to out-of-state care.
“We’re interested in working with Congress on bipartisan solutions that improve care for the millions of children served by the Medicaid program,” summarized Wietecha.