Medicaid Makes America’s Children Healthier

Q&A with Jim Kaufman, PhD, vice president of Public Policy at the Children’s Hospital Association

Modern Medicaid Alliance:  Tell us about the Children’s Hospital Association.

Children’s Hospital Association:  We seek to advance innovation in the quality, cost and delivery of care with our 220 member children’s hospitals.

 

Modern Medicaid Alliance:  Describe the value of Medicaid for America’s children.

Children’s Hospital Association:  As the largest single payer of children’s health care coverage, Medicaid is an essential investment in the lives of 37 million children living in every state and D.C. Healthy children grow up to become healthy adults, and Medicaid coverage tailored to the unique needs of kids ensures enrolled children are able to reach their full potential. Children represent over 40 percent of all Medicaid beneficiaries, but account for less than 20 percent of program spending overall – making Medicaid a smart investment in our children’s and nation’s future.

 

Modern Medicaid Alliance:  How does Medicaid help provide coverage and care for children?

Children’s Hospital Association:  The Medicaid program recognizes children must have access to a range of developmentally appropriate services and providers. The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit is tailored for children under age 21 – it covers preventive services such as immunizations, pediatric specialty and therapy services, behavioral health, vision, and dental services.

For children with complex medical conditions, Medicaid provides coverage or fills coverage gaps for services not covered by private insurance. Compared to children who are uninsured, children covered by Medicaid go on to enjoy better health, lower rates of mortality and higher educational and economic outcomes as they become adults.

 

Modern Medicaid Alliance: Tell us about a constituent you’ve worked with who was helped by Medicaid.

Children’s Hospital Association:  Each summer we bring patient families to Washington, DC to meet with their lawmakers. One of our 2018 Family Advocacy Day participants, Alex Beckwith, has a very serious condition called mitochondrial disease and relies on Medicaid to regularly see his 12 specialists and to receive care at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Alex is just one of approximately two million children with complex medical conditions whose Medicaid coverage has helped save or improve their lives.

 

Modern Medicaid Alliance:  What impact would Medicaid cuts have on America’s children?

Children’s Hospital Association:  Children would be disproportionately affected by federal cuts to – or limited state funding for – Medicaid. Funding cuts and other legislative changes could limit children’s access and benefits, making the health care system worse for children. Independent analyses of last year’s Medicaid reform proposal, the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), by Avalere and the American Action Forum estimated that the AHCA would have cut Medicaid for non-disabled kids by more than $40 billion by 2026  – with an even greater impact on disabled children.

 

Modern Medicaid Alliance:  Any last thoughts about the importance of Medicaid?

Children’s Hospital Association:  Medicaid has become the largest single payer for children’s health care. Funding cuts could result in higher commercial insurance rates due to cost shifting or elimination of provider-subsidized community services. That means cuts to the program have the potential to affect all children who rely on pediatric care, not just children enrolled in Medicaid – it’s imperative we protect and strengthen Medicaid for all our kids.

Jim Kaufman, vice president of Public Policy for the Children’s Hospital Association