Graham-Cassidy — the devastating effect on child health care

Graham-Cassidy — the devastating effect on child health care
© Greg Nash

The U.S. Senate is primed to vote on yet another measure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) This measure has a new name, the Graham-Cassidy bill. Some of its provisions are different from this year’s earlier repeal efforts.

The underlying threat to our most vulnerable population is the same, however: children will lose access to health care.

It’s possible that the new provisions make the threat even worse. 

This may come as a surprise to many who have followed the news coverage and who know that ObamaCare was a largely a program for adults. Why would Graham-Cassidy harm kids?

Because Graham-Cassidy goes far beyond repealing ObamaCare. It would cut billions of dollars of funding from Medicaid, the single largest provider of health insurance for children.  

Medicaid ensures coverage for 30 million children whose families could not afford it otherwise. It allows for immunizations, screenings and other preventative care to keep kids well. If they do become sick, or if they have chronic conditions that require ongoing care, children can receive the care they need because of Medicaid.

Approximately 95 percent of U.S. children now have health insurance, the highest percentage in history. That is an indication of how important children’s health is to Americans — how we understand that the health of our children affects the health of our country. Medicaid is the biggest reason why so many children are covered.

Any cut to Medicaid would mean fewer children have access to care they need. This isn’t just any cut, though. The Children’s Hospital Association estimates Graham-Cassidy would reduce funding for children’s health care by more than $40 billion over the next 10 years. Graham-Cassidy doesn’t only hurt children who have health coverage now; it hurts children who haven’t been born yet.

We can’t let that happen.

The Children’s Hospital Association has set up an easy way to make your voice heard on this issue, using the Speak Now For Kids online tool to contact your senators. I encourage anyone who cares about children to send a message. 

Earlier proposals to reduce Medicaid funding have been defeated this year and we are gratified that Senator John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAnother recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us To cure Congress, elect more former military members MORE is once again in opposition to this latest proposal. For the sake of children’s health, Graham-Cassidy must be defeated as well. 

Steve Allen, MD, is chief executive officer of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio and Immediate Past Chair for Children’s Hospital Association. Nationwide Children’s is one of the largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric healthcare networks in the United States.