Congress Considers Changes to Federal Health Care Programs
As Congress begins its work in 2017, there has been considerable discussion about potential changes to federal health care laws. In particular, Congress is considering repealing the Affordable Care Act and potentially restructuring the federal Medicaid Program. These types of changes to federal law could have a big effect on children in California. Currently, over 96 percent of California’s children have health care coverage,i an achievement made possible in large part by a combination of federal programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Medicaid Program, and the Affordable Care Act. Over six million children obtain needed health care services through the state’s Medi-Cal program, which includes both Medicaid and CHIP.
Medi-Cal is an investment that pays lifelong dividends for children, families, and taxpayers. National studies indicate that Medicaid coverage reduces infant mortality and morbidity.ii Moreover, research shows that children with coverage through the program are less likely to miss school, iii are healthier into adulthood, iv earn more in wages and pay more in taxes over the course of their lives. v
California’s children’s hospitals serve a large number of patients who are covered by Medi-Cal. In fact, nearly two-thirds of all our hospitals’ inpatient days are provided to Medi-Cal beneficiaries – twice the statewide average. While children’s hospitals are disproportionately Medi-Cal hospitals, our hospitals also serve many privately insured children with complex medical conditions such as cardiac abnormalities, rare childhood cancers, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell disease. Because of the expertise involved and the relative uniqueness of so many pediatric health care conditions, children with life-threatening, complex conditions rely on the same pediatric specialists, regardless of how their medical care is funded. The stability of the regionalized network of pediatric experts depends on both public and private payers. In other words, cuts to Medi-Cal don’t just harm children in the Medi-Cal program. They harm access to care for all children with complex medical needs.
California’s Medi-Cal Program is, in large measure, a program for children. It is a relatively inexpensive investment that pays off for families and for the country. It also helps to undergird a regionalized system of pediatric specialty care that protects all children with special health care needs. For these reasons, CCHA has asked Congress weighs to carefully evaluate all proposed legislation that would amend the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and CHIP to determine the potential effect s on pediatric care and work to oppose changes that would harm children. See the letter here:
iiJanet Currie and Jonathan Gruber. “Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women,” Journal of Political Economy, vol. 104, no. 6 (1996), pp 1263-1296.
iv Wherry, Laura R. et al., “Childhood Medicaid Coverage and Later Life Health Care Utilization.” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 20929, February 2015. www.nber.org/papers/w20929.pdf