At Kids Plus Pediatrics, we love kids. We work all day, every day, to keep children healthy, happy, and ready to reach their full potential. We work for these goals not only for “our” kids we see in our offices, but for all the kids in our region, our state, our country, and the world at large.
Because we want ALL children to live healthy, productive lives, we, the physician owners of Kids Plus Pediatrics, are compelled to speak out about the changes now being proposed to the Medicaid and CHIP programs, as well as potential federal budget cuts to food, nutrition, education, and housing programs that provide vital support for hundreds of thousands of children and families.
Today, 1.4 million children in Pennsylvania rely on Medicaid and CHIP programs to access the health care they need. More than 35 million — including nearly half of all children with special needs — rely on them nationwide. All children in foster care — around 500,000 each year — rely on Medicaid for their health care.
WIC, the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, & Children, provides nutritional support to over half of all infants born in the United States. WIC also provides nutrition for Moms who chose to breastfeed, ensuring that both Mom and baby have the healthiest start possible.
Studies show that children with health care through Medicaid miss fewer days of school, do better in school, are more likely to graduate from high school, and go on to have better-paying jobs than their peers who don’t have that same access to care. Children who have healthy food to eat are better able to learn and less likely to suffer long-term, chronic health issues. Spending these dollars on the health and wellness of our children is an investment that clearly pays off, both for individuals and for society as a whole.
With the health care cuts now being proposed in the US Senate, including the proposed change to capped block grants, every state would have much less money to spend on health care for its most vulnerable citizens, and would be free to divert money from the care of children to other needs. In other words: children would get the short end of the stick. Or no stick at all.
Medicaid and CHIP are vital for children’s health. Cutting the number of kids eligible to receive health care through those programs would have very real, and dire, consequences for millions of children.
Many children would lose access to basic, preventive health care like vaccines and well visits and hearing, vision, and developmental screenings. Many children who need wheelchairs or hearing aids would no longer be able to afford them. Many children at their most vulnerable — those who need access to speech therapy or mental health services or reproductive health services or addiction treatment services — would be unable to get the help they need. Many children and families would lose much-needed help with obtaining healthy food.
If private insurers are allowed to exclude children with special health care needs, then MORE children will have Medicaid as their only option, not fewer. A child born with a complex medical condition could exhaust his or her lifetime limit on coverage in just a few years, and be left with no access to health care.
The bottom line is clear, and disturbing: with these cuts, many children in Pennsylvania, and all across the country, would lose their access to health care, and their ability to participate fully in life.
That’s why we feel it is so important to continue to share our concerns, and to update this note, as new health care systems and budget cuts are debated.
This isn’t a political stance. It’s a pediatric stance. And a profoundly human one, too.
If we want to preserve essential health care for our most precious and vulnerable resources, we have to act now. I, and the other physician owners of Kids Plus, will be writing and calling our Senators and Congresspersons this week, asking them to preserve Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children.
If you’d like to add your voice to ours, and to the voices of so many more people who work for the health and wellness of children, here are some resources to help:
We hope you’ll join us in action to help protect the health and well-being of so many of our children.