The nation is possibly less than a week away from seeing the passage of a new health care bill – the American Health Care Act (AHCA). This is the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare. After weeks of review, the U.S. Senate unveiled its version of the health care bill on Thursday. It’s important for Texas Children’s employees to understand how the bill could potentially impact the patients in our care, as significant cuts to Medicaid are proposed.
“A lot of people may not realize that more than 50 percent of Texas Children’s Hospital patients rely on Medicaid,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace. “This program is essential to Texas Children’s mission of providing care to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Children do not choose to be born into poverty, and they should not be penalized for their circumstances by having the government reduce their access to health care.”
Texas’ Medicaid program enrolls approximately 4.2 million people. Among those, more than 3 million – or about 75 percent – are children and pregnant women. They make up 75 percent of the covered population, yet they account for less than 25 percent of current Medicaid costs. This is because Medicaid gives children access to a medical home with a regular pediatrician, well-child exams and preventive services, which keeps them healthier and their health care costs lower.
“Put simply, the majority of Texas’ Medicaid population – low-income mothers and children – are not the reason program costs are high,” Wallace said. “Yet, they will suffer the most if legislation that fundamentally changes the Medicaid program goes forward.”
Texas Children’s Health Plan covers more than 430,000 children and pregnant women in Medicaid and CHIP. Based on the provisions outlined in the Senate’s version of the bill released today, millions of non-disabled children and pregnant women who rely on Medicaid could experience cuts to their health care. The Senate is pushing to vote on the bill before the July 4 congressional recess.
Texas Children’s is working to educate and influence lawmakers on the importance of Medicaid for our patient families and those across the country cared for at children’s hospitals.
“Since Medicaid is a state-federal partnership, we’re meeting with lawmakers in Austin and D.C. and encouraging them to protect the children and pregnant women who are most vulnerable to the proposed cuts to Medicaid,” said Texas Children’s Government Relations Director Rosie Valadez McStay.
“At the same time, we – Texas Children’s staff and employees – can do our part to advocate for our patients by reaching out to our elected representatives and ask them to protect health care. If we’re vocal and consistent in reaching out to those elected to represent us, we can help craft health care policy that could make a real difference for all children.”
We need you to speak up for our patients. Visit the Speak Now for Kids website to send a letter to Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn about why we must protect health care for children and pregnant women. Even if you already sent a letter in response to Mr. Wallace’s request last month, please do it again – every time you speak up, it makes an impact.