Working together on children’s healthcare
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Not all healthcare policy in Washington is messy and partisan; sometimes we just need to do what’s right. Every year, I meet with courageous families in Washington and Texas who introduce me to their children who suffer from complex medical conditions. These brave children require the care of multiple pediatric providers at multiple locations, sometimes out of state. All too often these families are forced to spend hours and hours navigating bureaucratic red tape, rather than focusing on caring for their loved one.  

Medicaid, administered by individual states, plays a primary role in providing coverage for these children. For more than three years now, I have worked with children’s hospitals, primary and specialty care providers, state Medicaid directors, family advocates and our colleagues in the Senate to find common ground and improve the Medicaid program. As a result, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and I, along with Reps. Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenTexas Dem rep announces plans to retire Five things to know about GOP's gun-suppressor bill Dem pulls support of gun rights bill after Las Vegas shooting MORE (D-Texas), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertMounting GOP retirements threaten House majority The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on tax-reform bill The future lies in the Asia-Pacific MORE (R-Wash) and Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerWorking together on children’s healthcare The Hill's Latina Leaders to Watch CNN launches new digital series on 'badass women of Washington' MORE (R-Wash.) reintroduced the bipartisan Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act of 2017 (the ACE Kids Act).

Roughly two million children covered by Medicaid live with complex medical conditions. These include childhood cancer, congenital heart defects, cystic fibrosis, and many other diseases that attack the body and the mind. Children with complex medical conditions represent only six percent of all children on Medicaid, yet account for nearly forty percent of Medicaid spending on children. This bill aims to concentrate resources to best serve our nation’s most vulnerable and coordinate their care across multiple providers.

The innovative health model that has come as a result of our work relies heavily on pediatric hospitals and coordinated at home care. Our bill creates hubs of care, which will offer not only the expertise of highly skilled medical professionals, but also the back-end knowledge needed to navigate the messier often confusing side of patient payments and Medicaid regulation. States will have the option to opt in to this program if they feel it serves their state and patient population. By providing these services through a central point, we will better help families and their child while also reducing costs.

A sick child should not be limited from receiving the care they need based on what state they live in. I have heard from some of our nation’s very best pediatric providers and they are ready, able and willing to set up these networks of care for children in their region and across the country.

This important legislation, which we aim to pass this year, is overwhelmingly bipartisan and bicameral. We have not rushed, but worked through our differences over months and years. What has resulted is a bill that is ready to move through both chambers of Congress to the President’s desk. Too often in Washington victories are measured by a photo opportunity and a bill signing – but for us the true victory will come next year, when we see a child and their family receive the treatment and coordinated care they so desperately need and deserve. 

Barton represents Texas' 6th District and is the vice chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.