30 million children are caught in the middle of the Medicaid battle

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While there is much debate in the media and in Congress about health care reform in this country, there are millions of voices that are being ignored. They are 30 million children who have no say in the outcome of this debate, but who stand to lose the most.

Their fate rests in the hands of lawmakers who are considering replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), with the proposed American Health Care Act. If enacted in its current form, the new law would mean drastic changes to Medicaid. While many think of it as an adult program, Medicaid is actually the largest insurer of children in the United States.

{mosads}In fact, children make up 40 percent of the Medicaid population and the changes proposed in the new law will put their health coverage at risk.


My concerns are not political. As the CEO of the largest pediatric hospital in the United States, my concerns are rooted in real life and are reflected in the faces of the vulnerable children we treat every day.

Here’s the issue. Medicaid funding currently follows certain patterns based on changes in expenses and on the prevalence of certain conditions. In other words, the more need there is, the more the funding follows.

But under the newly proposed law, there would be a “per capita cap” starting in 2020, meaning states would only be allotted a certain amount of funding per person, regardless of need. This limiting of funding to states may ultimately limit children’s access to care.

In addition, the proposal does not specifically protect funding for children. When adult spending on Medicaid runs over its allotment, money intended for children could be diverted to cover the gap in adults.

If we truly care about the health and well-being of our children, we must care about what happens to Medicaid.

The program is vital to families who may not be able to afford health care coverage for their children. It not only allows them to see doctors when they are sick, but it provides preventative care that can keep them well and out of the hospital.

If this new proposal becomes law, the results are as predictable as they are disturbing. Children will not be a priority when it comes to health care funding, and with absolutely no say in the matter, they will stand to lose the most.

Congress must understand the threat that the American Health Care Act, as structured now, poses to the 30 million children who depend on Medicaid. It must choose to put the health and well-being of those children above political posturing.

If you feel compelled to make your opinion known on the matter, it just takes one minute to use your voice to Speak Now for Kids.

Steve Allen, MD, is the chief executive officer of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Follow them on Twitter: @nationwidekids

The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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