Statement: Children gain coverage, access in new legislation
First Focus Campaign for Children is pleased that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425), unveiled today by chairs of the House health committees, makes a special effort to specifically address the health care needs of children.
“Children too often are an afterthought in our policy and budget decisions,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. “It is encouraging to see such particular attention paid to their needs in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act.”
The package, put forward by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), offers many provisions aimed at improving children’s health care and coverage. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation could lower prices for some prescription drugs by as much as 55%, and that the savings to the federal government from those provisions will cover the cost of expanded care. Over a decade, CBO estimates, the measures will actually reduce the deficit by $15 billion.
Highlights of the package that benefit children include:
- Incorporation of the CARING for Kids Act, sponsored by Reps. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), which would make the Children’s Health Insurance Program permanent;
- Creation of a state option to raise Medicaid and CHIP eligibility to 300% of the Federal Poverty Line, from Rep. Nanette Barragan’s (D-CA) bill to open coverage pathways to children currently without coverage or with unaffordable coverage;
- Extension of Medicaid and CHIP coverage for twelve consecutive months, which will keep kids covered and eliminate churn due to red tape and paperwork;
- Guarantee of twelve months of Medicaid and CHIP coverage postpartum to reduce maternal mortality, especially for Black women, who have the highest rates of dying after giving birth;
- Elimination of the “family glitch,” which will allow millions of families to afford coverage that meets their needs through the Affordable Care Act marketplace;
- Extension of Medicaid to migrants from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, a long-overdue provision; and,
- Increase of federal matching dollars for Urban Indian Health Programs, which will help stabilize services provided to American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Children need stable, continuous, affordable health coverage that meets their needs. This bill takes us in the right direction.