Pages tagged "Health"
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.
Letter: A Pledge to work with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to address issues of importance to Hispanic children
First Focus Campaign for Children sent the following letter to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus alerting them to a few issues of importance for Hispanic children and to pledge our support in working with them to address these issues.
Excerpt from the letter:
The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act corrects a major problem in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in which children were valued at just 41.7 percent of adults ($500 per child versus $1,200 for adults) under the recovery rebate program. The HEROES Act provides full parity of $1,200 for both adults and children and acknowledges that every aspect of the lives of children is being impacted by the dual COVID-19 and economic crises. The legislation also fixes some of the shortcomings in the CARES Act “recovery rebate” program by expanding eligibility to college students, dependents over 16, and immigrant families. These are all critically important improvements that we strongly support.
As the economic toll of COVID-19 robs American families of their jobs and the health insurance that comes with them, lawmakers must act decisively to protect children’s coverage.
We strongly support the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program Pandemic Enhancement and Relief (CHIPPER) Act, which will suspend the scheduled drop in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) E-FMAP of 11.5 percentage points in the coming fiscal year. With more than 6 million children projected to lose their health insurance, now is not the time to cut federal support for states providing coverage by billions of dollars.
“Congress missed the opportunity to include this critical suspension in the $3 trillion coronavirus relief package unveiled Tuesday,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. “But we are gratified that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are coming together to get the job done one way or another.”
The bill is sponsored by Pennsylvania Reps. Susan Wild, a Democrat, and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican. It has 46 co-sponsors.
CHIP has demonstrated two decades of success, cutting the children’s uninsured rate to just 4.5% in FY 2016. Since then, however, misguided policies have pushed children off the rolls and sent the number of uninsured toward 6%. The dual public health and economic crises of the pandemic ensure it will go higher still.
This CHIPPER bill supports CHIP at a critical time. In addition to the direct impact of COVID-19, which causes a rare inflammatory disease in children, efforts to curb the virus and its economic fallout have delayed treatment for underlying conditions and developmental appointments, increased stress and the need for mental health treatment, postponed immunizations, increased child hunger, and spiked incidents of child abuse and maltreatment.
Every facet of the lives of children and families are being disrupted during this historic public health and economic crisis. Unfortunately, both their short-term and long-term consequences and challenges are not being fully considered or discussed. This crisis is severe and will last for months or even years to come. Moreover, the resulting physical and mental health consequences, impact on education and child development, and economic implications of this calamity will last well beyond the coronavirus itself.
That is why First Focus Campaign for Children called on Congress to safeguard the physical, emotional, financial, and developmental health and well-being of our nation’s 74 million children with a specific package of legislative proposals across a range of issues — including children's health.
As children and families face the COVID-19 crisis, health coverage and access to care are more critical than ever. Newly unemployed parents mean more children will become eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. Keeping those programs well-functioning in states demands increased funding from the federal level. More than ever, families need affordable care from their providers and coverage that meets their medical, dental, and mental health needs. To meet these needs, we recommend the following:
- Increase Medicaid FMAP: Increase the FMAP for Medicaid to at least 12 percent to provide fiscal relief to states while millions more children and adults are eligible for Medicaid.
- Auto-Enroll Newborns: Auto-enroll newborns in Medicaid, CHIP, or private coverage before leaving the hospital to ensure there is no gap in coverage for newborns.
- Protect the Medicaid MOE: Protect the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) for Medicaid in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act so eligible children and adults can access coverage and remain covered without red tape.
- Extend Parity in CHIP: Provide parity in CHIP to what is in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which mandates states not increase premiums in Medicaid or disenroll anyone already on Medicaid during the course of the public health emergency.
- Waive Extra Costs and Waiting Periods for Children: Waive waiting periods for CHIP, CHIP premiums, and co-pays for Emergency Room and office visits so families who are already stretched for money aren’t spending on CHIP during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Twelve-month Continuous Eligibility: Provide 12-month continuous eligibility to Medicaid and CHIP recipients to eliminate the loss of coverage due to administrative paperwork and bureaucracy.
- Postpone CHIP FMAP Reduction: Postpone the upcoming final reduction of the enhanced E-FMAP for CHIP by 11.5% on October 1, 2020. Maintaining the current E-FMAP continues the administrative and fiscal status quo for Medicaid programs that are on the front lines of addressing the current COVID-19 crisis and provides additional resources to states and local governments.
- Make CHIP Permanent: The uninsured rate for children increased when CHIP expired for over 4 months in 2017 and 2018 and great time and energy by the federal government, states, health care providers, health plans, and advocates was wasted simply trying to maintain the status quo. We should never gamble or put at risk the health coverage of millions of children again. Extending CHIP saves money and could help offset the cost of these other initiatives. This idea was introduced (H.R. 6151, the CARING for Kids Act) by Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Vern Buchanan.
- Allow States to Raise CHIP Eligibility: Add an option for states to expand income eligibility for CHIP up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level to reduce uninsurance among children. Legislation has been introduced by Representative Nanette Barragan (H.R. 6098) allowing states this flexibility to reduce the uninsured rate for children.
- Sufficiently Fund CHIP: Provide sufficient funding for CHIP to meet the cost of increased enrollment due to newly eligible children and pregnant women.
- Withdraw MFAR Rule: Withdraw the proposed “Medicaid Fiscal Accountability” MFAR rule that would severely reduce states’ abilities to fund Medicaid and meet their obligation under FMAP.
- Expand Health Care within Group Settings: Expand health protections for children who are forced to remain in confined settings (i.e., group homes, juvenile justice centers).
- Ensure Accessibility to Healthcare: Children are falling behind on immunization and developmental screenings during this crisis. We should take actions to ensure that children fully catch up or receive those services and assure language and interpreter services are available for families.
- Address Declining Vaccination Rates: Support outreach efforts to ensure children do not fall behind on immunization rates and expand research to better understand vaccine hesitancy, spread public awareness of the importance of vaccinations, and increase vaccination rates across the lifespan, as included in the bipartisan VACCINES Act of 2019.
- Increase Mental Health Services and Funding: Families and children are under increased stress and risk during the coronavirus and economic crises, and need increased funding for mental health services and funding for kids and adolescents, including telehealth services to ensure behavioral and mental health care are provided.
- Establish an SEP for Marketplace Enrollment: Establish an extended Special Enrollment Period for healthcare.gov and allow families to gain coverage for any reason during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Eliminate the ACA Family Glitch: Eliminate the “family glitch” making employer-sponsored coverage truly affordable for families in the Marketplace.
For a full list of our specific policy recommendations across the array of children’s issues, check out our letter to Congress.
First Focus Campaign for Children sent the following letter to Congressional leaders in both houses with a set of recommendations to address the needs of our nation’s children and youth as our country faces two crises — the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting economic impact as businesses and schools remain closed and consumers stay home.
Excerpt from the letter:
This outbreak and the resulting economic crisis are falling hardest on the most vulnerable among us, including our nation’s children. It is disrupting every facet of children’s lives and we cannot yet know all of the negative and long-lasting implications it will have on children’s healthy development and future success.
While we applaud the passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act, we know much more is needed to address all of the ways that this outbreak is affecting child well-being in the United States. We urge Congress to treat children equitably to help meet their needs in additional legislative packages.
The impact on children from COVID-19 is immense. It is also variable and complicated. Every facet of the lives of children and families are being disrupted. Unfortunately, in policy discussions, children are often invisible to policymakers and so much of this nuance is ignored. Below, we have attempted to dig into this nuance and provide resources on all of the ways this crisis impacts the lives of children — and how we can work to address these challenges.
Articles & Analysis
The COVID-19 Crisis Is Catastrophic for Children Too
On a daily basis, we are witnessing an ever-changing response to the spread of COVID-19 across the entire nation. Unlike natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, flooding, or man-made disasters like 9/11 that impact the entire nation but have devastating consequences that are more consequential to a specific and defined geographic area, the COVID-19 challenge is that it is a worldwide catastrophe and is creating both health and economic crises simultaneously. Every facet of the lives of children and families are being disrupted. Unfortunately, both the short-term and long-term consequences and challenges are not being fully considered or discussed. This crisis is severe and will last for months or even years to come. Moreover, the health and trauma, impact on education and child development, and economic consequences of this calamity will last well beyond the coronavirus itself.
Building a Better America and World for Our Children
We are living in a life-changing moment where it is clear that the future will look quite different than we had imagined. We are all sheltering at home, practicing social distancing, and focusing most of our attention on the twin crises of COVID-19 and the related worldwide economic recession. Obviously, it is critically important to find that balance between protecting the health of people worldwide and protecting the economy from collapse and the harm that will have on people’s lives. Focusing on the need to improve the care and delivery of services to children and families is desperately needed, but we often forget that such work goes hand-in-hand with advocacy. However, because corporations, interest groups, and the wealthy are engaged in politics and bring money and influence to the table, the needs of children are often an afterthought in public policymaking.
COVID-19: How The Health of Children Is at Stake
Children may not be dying in the same number as adults or senior citizens due to COVID-19, but their health is at risk and so are the lives of their parents and grandparents. While children are often more susceptible to certain diseases and environmental toxins, they are also often more responsive to medical treatment and have a better ability to bounce back and heal from health issues. The latter appears to be the case with COVID-19, but it should not lead to an utter dismissal of their unique health care needs or their special circumstances by politicians.
Coronavirus confirms why we need a national commitment to address child poverty and homelessness in the United States
This current crisis makes clear that anti-poverty strategies are public health strategies. As the spread of the Coronavirus has grown, the vulnerabilities within our system have become clear. As schools close, businesses close or reduce hours, consumers stay home, and events are canceled, low-income household budgets are being stretched even thinner and children’s healthy development is at risk as children miss meals and other resources usually provided in school, and parents miss paychecks due to reduced work hours or lack of childcare. This is why it’s crucial that we address these challenges through a national commitment to cut child poverty in half within a decade.
Congress passes coronavirus relief package — what’s in it for kids?
First Focus commends the passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus emergency bill, and even more, for using it to offer relief to America’s struggling families and children. While some of the deal’s elements will meet the most urgent needs of our nation’s children, it is far from perfect. In this fact sheet, we look at how each of the three Congressional relief packages affect children.
Fact sheet on aid to children and families in the HEROES Act
As part of ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting economic crisis, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) on May 15, 2020, by a vote of 208 to 199. Many of these provisions build on the efforts of the two previous major pieces of COVID-19 response legislation, the CARES act, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Statements & Letters to Congress
Selected News Coverage on COVID-19's Effect on Children
- A Gloomy Prediction on How Much Poverty Could Rise via New York Times
- COVID-19 In Children: How They Contract Infection And What Are The Symptoms via NPR
- The pandemic will haunt today’s children forever. But we can help them now via The Washington Post
- Parenting during a pandemic: ‘Our children are not OK via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- This Woman and Her Kids Are U.S. Citizens — But They Can't Get Any Coronavirus Stimulus Money via VICE
- Coronavirus's collateral damage: Abused and neglected children via The Hill
- UN: Millions of children at risk of poverty and malnutrition due to coronavirus via AXIOS
- Do not forget the hidden epidemic of child abuse via Portland Press Herald
- Millions of U.S. citizens won’t get help from stimulus checks because their spouses or parents are unauthorized immigrants via Dallas Morning News
- Medicaid saved my son’s life, it saves lives in a pandemic too via The Colorado Independent
- Delays in vaccinations, delays in care: How fear of COVID-19 is affecting children's health via CNN
- Lessons From New Orleans On Child Trauma And The COVID-19 Crisis via Essence
- With no school, calls drop but child abuse hasn't amid virus via ABC News
- Gen Z was fed up with the status quo. Coronavirus could affirm their beliefs via The Washington Post
- 40 million children miss polio vaccinations due to COVID-19 via The Nation
- 25 Kids Test Positive For Coronavirus At Virginia Juvenile Detention Center via The Huffington Post
- Risk of Eviction High For Households With Kids, Especially During Coronavirus: Researcher via Youth Today
- COVID-19 adds to woes of homeless New Mexican youth who age out of foster care via Las Cruces Sun News
- The opioid crisis and community-level spillovers onto children’s education via Brookings
- Congress must act to provide millions of children with pandemic food assistance via The Hill
- The America We Need via New York Times
- Children's advocates want more COVID-19 protections via CQ News
- The Coronavirus Class Divide: Space and Privacy via New York Times
- Millions of low-income children are still waiting for federal food aid via CNN
- Gen Z was fed up with the status quo. Coronavirus could affirm their beliefs via Washington Post
- Want To Get Money To People In Need Right Now? Use Food Stamps via Buzzfeed
- States should replace grab-and-go school meals with cash to families via The Hill
- Who will care for the children of COVID-19 patients? via The Philadelphia Inquirer
- The deadly mix of COVID-19, air pollution, and inequality, explained via Vox
- Children's advocates want more COVID-19 protections via CQ Roll Call
- We're all supposed to stay home. What about kids who aren't safe there? via CNN
- The Kids Aren’t All Right via The Atlantic
- Expert warns: Stay-at-home order could increase child abuse via The Missoulian
- Coronavirus roils every segment of US child welfare system via Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- New York Foster Youth Ousted from Dorms Face the Weekend in Pandemic Limbo via The Chronicle of Social Change
- Who’s Left Out of Coronavirus Stimulus Payments? Many College Students, Adult Dependents via The Wall Street Journal
- How US schools are (and aren’t) providing meals to children in the COVID-19 crisis via Vox
- FOX 5 partners with Washington Teachers' Union to air lessons on TV for students without laptops via FOX5 DC
- 10,000 Tenn. children could lose therapy as insurance companies deny telehealth coverage via WZTV Nashville
- The Urgency of Child Care During a Pandemic via DAME Magazine
Presentations & Panels
We commend Senate lawmakers’ unanimous passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus emergency bill, and even more, for using it to offer relief to America’s struggling families and children. While some of the deal’s elements will meet the most urgent needs of our nation’s children, Congress must quickly enact even more robust measures.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R.748) sets aside more than $9 billion in food assistance to keep children and families from going hungry. The bill also funds education assistance for kids out of school; community health centers, where 30% of the patients are children; the federal program that helps families pay for utilities; and programs to help support families experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
We applaud the provision of direct cash assistance to children, families and individuals, and the removal of thresholds that will now allow the money to reach the neediest people in our communities. This cash will begin — but only begin — to meet the immediate needs of struggling families for food, rent, gas, utilities and other necessities. The amount of assistance — $1,200 per adult, $500 per child — is inadequate, particularly for children, who are engaged in critical stages of development and whose families are further endangered by lack of family medical leave and other social supports. Lawmakers must move immediately to increase and extend cash assistance, ensure it reaches all children regardless of immigration status, and to create parity in the amounts given to adults and children.
As more parents lose jobs, more families will become eligible for Medicaid. Congress therefore also must increase the amount of federal assistance to states to help them meet the increased demand. We are also pleased that the package provides additional funding for child care, but as in other areas, more is needed. Health care workers and other essential personnel on the front lines of this pandemic need child care more than ever, and child care workers need support.
We look forward to the swift passage of this bill by the House, and the swift remedy of its shortcomings in the near future.
First Focus Campaign for Children sent the following letter to Congressional leaders in both houses, urging them to prioritize the well-being of children in America as they respond to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Excerpt from the letter:
We applaud Congress for passing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and now urge Congress to again act quickly to provide additional and immediate economic relief in the form of increased access to healthcare, direct cash transfers, housing assistance, education support, child care assistance and more in order to protect the health of all children and families in the United States and provide households with some financial stability to weather times of uncertainty.
We ask for you to act in the following ways:
- Implement an immediate and direct cash assistance program of at least $2,000 that prioritizes children and available to all children who need it most. The direct cash support should be robust and on scale with the crisis, reach those quickly who need it most, including those with no income, and available in timely payments until the economy recovers. It also should not result in the unintended exclusion of babies and young people who would qualify now but would not have been eligible in 2018. We know that an immediate cash-transfer to low-and middle-income families during this public health emergency will help to address the loss of income too many households are experiencing now, and others will endure as the economy continues to slow down, businesses close and layoffs occur. Expansion of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit also would help to ensure some household financial stability for many low-income and vulnerable populations during these times of grave uncertainty;
- Provide emergency cash assistance to families through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program;
- Increase the Medicaid FMAP by at least ten percentage points;
- Mandate 12-month continuous eligibility in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
- Reduce enrollment barriers and red tape for enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP;
- Enroll newborns without alternative coverage in Medicaid automatically;
- Provide Medicaid coverage to any population not currently eligible;
- Increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for every household enrolled in the program;
- Fund McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) at $500 million and allow for broader use of funds to meet the temporary housing, health, safety, transportation, and educational needs of homeless children and youth, including the unique needs of young children, unaccompanied youth, children and youth with disabilities, and English Language Learners;
- Increase Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs by $128 million and bypass the current competitive grant process and distribute to existing grantees;
- Increase the Service Connect for Youth on the Streets program by $22 million and also bypass the current competitive grant process and distribute to existing grantees;
- Ensure that colleges and universities create plans to support students experiencing homelessness or housing instability during campus shutdowns;
- Boost Title IV-E Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (Chafee) funds above the current level of $143 million and temporarily waive the 30 percent Chafee housing cap for the duration of the crisis in order to provide additional support for living independent services for current and former foster youth;
- Require a percent point FMAP increase for Title IV-E to match the Medicaid FMAP increase to support children and families in the child welfare system;
- Implement a moratorium on evictions nationwide;
- Increase access to civil legal services for families facing evictions after moratoriums are lifted, or if moratoriums are not put into effect;
- Suspend the operation of the public charge rule for the duration of the crisis and ensure that no medical services utilized during the crisis apply to any reinstated rule;
- Significant and flexible emergency funding that will allow child care and Head Start programs to weather the growing public health and economic crisis and preserve the nation’s supply of family child care and community-based child care programs;
- Ensure emergency child care funding includes for public health workers and first responders;
- Accelerate efforts to address technology gaps and access to broadband and devices for students and families.
Statement: Congress's coronavirus response is a good first step, but bigger, bolder measures are needed
We applaud Congress for passing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, providing families and children with increased food and nutrition assistance, supplemental state funding for Medicaid, and paid sick days and leave for some workers. The bill, passed today by the Senate, was a good first step, but bigger, bolder measures are needed to aid the nation’s families.
The financial instability experienced by children living in poverty already deprives them of regular, nutritious meals; stable housing; health care and other resources required for their healthy development. While the public health crisis has taken a toll on the entire country, it has exacerbated the systemic inequities surrounding our most vulnerable families and children.
“As schools close and businesses shut down, low-income households are stretched even thinner,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley. “As parents miss paychecks and children miss meals, we put the healthy development of our kids at risk.”
As bipartisan advocates for making children and families a priority in federal budget and policy decisions, we urge Congress to act quickly and aggressively on additional measures. These should include direct and immediate emergency cash transfers, increased access to healthcare, housing and child care assistance, educational support, and more. For a full list of policy priorities aimed at easing the burden on children and families, please see our Letter to Congressional leaders.
In 2019, nearly one-in-six of our nation’s children lived in poverty. The number of kids without health insurance rose to more than 4 million, reversing two decades of progress. More than 12 million children stared down hunger each day. And the federal government worked to deprive millions more of food, housing, and other life-sustaining assistance.
First Focus Campaign for Children today released its 2019 Legislative Scorecard, which identifies 120 members of Congress who had the courage to buck this trend and put children first. These Champions and Defenders of children introduced bills to safeguard children’s programs, supported beneficial measures and voted against those that would harm children. Some even defied their party leadership to protect children’s interests.
“Kids don’t vote and they don’t have political action committees,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. “That’s why it’s up to lawmakers to make children a priority and protect their best interests. We commend these 120 members of Congress for putting children first and hope their contribution will inspire their colleagues to do the same.”
FFCC’s 2019 Legislative Scorecard ranks policymakers according to votes and bill sponsorships taken during the first session of the 116th Congress that prioritize the well-being of our nation’s children. The 25-page report examines key pieces of legislation on children’s health insurance, child hunger, homelessness, child abuse and neglect, tax credits and other issues critical to advancing the needs of our kids and families. The report names 40 Senators and 80 Representatives, from both parties, as Champions or Defenders for children in the 116th Congress.
Some key takeaways from the 2019 Scorecard:
- Women were two-and-a-half times more likely than men to be Champions or Defenders.
- Percentage of delegations who are Champions or Defenders breaks along regional lines:
- 43% of lawmakers from Western states are Champions or Defenders
- 40% of lawmakers from the Northeast are Champions or Defenders
- 21% of lawmakers from the Midwest are Champions or Defenders
- 9% of lawmakers from the Southwest/Plains states are Champions or Defenders
- 7% of lawmakers from the Southeast are Champions or Defenders. Florida leads the region with four. Other states in the region have only one.
Please view and download the full report at www.ffccscorecard.org.