On March 22, 2017, the Partnership for America’s Children sent the following letter to Congress
The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader, U.S. Senate The Honorable Charles Schumer, Minority Leader, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Paul Ryan, Speaker, U.S. House The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader, U.S. House
The Partnership for America’s Children is a network of 52 nonpartisan children’s policy and advocacy organizations in 41 states working to improve children’s health, economic well-being, safety and education. We are writing in opposition to the American Health Care Act because of its impact on the health and well-being of America’s children and families.
Partnership members are:
· Multi-issue, recognizing the needs of the whole child and therefore advocating for children from cradle to adulthood across six major policy areas,
· Independent, setting their own agendas based solely on what is best for children,
· Nonpartisan, providing rigorous, evidence-based data and analysis to all policymakers, and
· Nonprofit, putting the needs of children and their families first.
Partnership members have worked for decades to increase children’s and parents’ access to health insurance and health care. In the 1990’s, Partnership members across the country worked to ensure that states enacted CHIP programs with the best possible benefits and structure for children, and then worked to increase enrollment in that program and Medicaid. They have also fought to improve state Medicaid and CHIP programs for children and their parents. They are particularly aware of the harm to children when health insurance programs are underfunded. For example, when provider reimbursement rates are too low, insured children still do not get health care because providers refuse to enroll.
Children’s health is essential for their ability to succeed in school and in life, and during the past twenty years, our nation has made enormous strides to ensure that children have access to health insurance coverage and child-centered primary health care. Today, 95% of America’s children have health insurance coverage – an historic high. This progress in connecting children to vital, preventive health care has been due to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the ACA. Children are more likely to be insured if their parents also have health insurance and the ACA has contributed to the most recent increase in children’s health insurance rates.
Children who have health insurance coverage are healthier and have fewer preventable hospitalizations. They are more likely to receive preventive medical and dental care, be screened for developmental milestones, obtain needed timely treatment and miss fewer days of school.
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide low-income children with affordable, comprehensive health benefits which have been shown to increase access to primary and preventive care for children and to improve long-term health, academic, and economic outcomes. States have made it a priority to build high quality children’s health insurance programs in partnership with the federal government, with the Medicaid program at the core of this success.
The per capita caps for Medicaid that are included in the American Health Care Act would reverse the over 50 year commitment to the guarantee of needed health and development services to eligible children, parents and pregnant women. It is estimated that the bill’s Medicaid changes will result in $880 billion in federal Medicaid cuts over the next ten years. The burden will shift to states who will have to decide how to allocate significantly reduced federal dollars and children’s critical health care and the child-centered set of health care and development services will be at risk. While it is being described as a way to give states greater flexibility in their use of Medicaid dollars, Medicaid caps will instead dramatically reduce the Medicaid funding states have relied on and will dismantle Medicaid’s flexible financing structure that provides additional funding when states hit economic downturns or experience natural disasters or public health emergencies.
The provision within the American Health Care Act to dramatically restructure Medicaid and remove its guarantee of funding for all eligible children, parents and pregnant women is a major policy shift that is being rushed through without a single hearing on the consequences of such a dramatic change to a program that has helped states serve America’s most vulnerable populations, including children, for over fifty years. Almost 50% of Medicaid beneficiaries are children and the proposed restructuring of Medicaid puts children at risk.
Taken together, the Congressional Budget Office estimate that 24 million Americans will lose coverage as a result of the American Health Care Act and the ramifications of caps on Medicaid will reverse the nation’s progress in children’s health insurance coverage and child health outcomes.
Our nation’s economic prosperity depends on the health and well-being of its children. We urge you to build on the progress that has been made through the leadership of Congress and states across the country over the past two decades to ensure that children and families have access to high quality health insurance coverage –rather than reversing this progress by taking away the fundamental protections of the Medicaid program for children, parents, pregnant women and children with disabilities.
If you would like further information, please contact Deborah Stein at [email protected] or 202-290-1816.
Partnership for America’s Children
Members of the Partnership for America’s Children endorsing this letter:
Children’s Action Alliance (AZ)
Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families
Children’s Advocacy Institute (CA)
Children Now (CA)
The Children’s Partnership (CA)
Colorado Children’s Campaign
Connecticut Association for Human Services
KIDS COUNT in Delaware
Hawaii Children’s Action Network
Idaho Voices for Children
Marion County Commission on Youth, Inc. (IN)
Child and Family Policy Center (IA)
Kansas Action for Children
Maine Children’s Alliance
Advocates for Children and Youth (MD)
Voices for Children in Nebraska
Children’s Advocacy Alliance (NV)
Advocates for Children of New Jersey
New Mexico Voices for Children
Schuyler Center For Analysis and Advocacy (NY)
Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Inc.
The Children’s Agenda (Rochester, NY)
Westchester Children’s Association (NY)
NC Child (NC)
Voices for Ohio’s Children
Children First for Oregon
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PA)
Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth
Texans Care for Children
Voices for Children of San Antonio (TX)
Voices for Utah Children
Voices for Vermont’s Children
Voices for Virginia’s Children
Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
The Partnership for America’s Children is a network of state and local child advocacy organizations working to improve policies affecting children at the local, state, and national level. The Partnership strengthens members’ policy knowledge, advocacy skills, and organizational development by connecting them to peer expertise and national resources, and by facilitating collaborative efforts to improve the lives of all America’s children. 4americaschildren.org.
Deborah Stein, Network Director