August Recess has historically been a time for members of Congress to spend time in their home states meeting with constituents. Taking advantage of this time at home, Congressmen Pete Olson and Michael Burgess made a trip to Texas Children’s to visit with leaders in the fields of pediatrics and obstetrics. The pair visited with Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline, Chief Financial Officer Ben Melson, OBGYN-in-Chief Dr. Michael Belfort, Chief of Neonatology Dr. Stephen Welty, and Director of Texas Children’s Simulation Center Dr. Jennifer Arnold among many others. They were accompanied by Director of Government Relations Rosie Valadez-McStay. The purpose of the visit was to bring awareness to how our hospital functions and what can be done legislatively to help organizations like ours continue to advance care for children and women.
“It’s incredibly important to have these legislators get a behind-the-scenes tour of how a hospital as large as ours operates and see first-hand how health policies and programs affect us and our patients,” said Valadez-McStay. “Specifically, we want our elected representatives to think of us as subject matter experts in Medicaid – to reach out to us when they are considering legislation or policy reforms – as any change in health policy could transform the lives of the sickest pediatric patients across the country and how children’s hospitals and health care professionals care for them.”
During the visit, the two were able to tour several areas in the Pavilion including the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic, the Women’s Intensive Care Unit and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The NICU has some of the hospital’s youngest medically complex cases. These are the babies who could be affected by HR 4930, the Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act of 2014 (ACE Kids). The legislation, which was proposed last month, establishes pediatric centers of excellence through a federal designation. These Centers of Excellence would become the medical network for children with medical complexities on Medicaid. These hospitals would communicate and share information in order to allow for seamless care of these complex cases across state lines. For example, if a child in Louisiana with a medical complexity needs the care that is only available through specialists at Texas Children’s, once the legislation is passed, that child will be able to cross state lines to receive that care without wondering how their Medicaid will be affected. The hospital in Louisiana will also be able to better communicate with Texas Children’s to make sure none of the tests are unnecessarily duplicated and that when the patient returns home that care is coordinated and is tracked for health outcomes and quality.
Other August visitors included the staff of Senator John Cornyn, staff from the office of US Congressmen John Culberson and Ted Poe. Off-site visits by Texas Children’s government relations staff included meetings with Congressmen Gene Green and Kevin Brady.
The ACE Kids Act has 34 cosponsors so far and is truly bi-partisan with 17 Republicans and 17 Democrats lending their support. Help us get more of our Congressional delegation to sign-on to the bill by joining in the Children’s Hospital Association’s social media Thunderclap – an echo of social media postings by all the children’s hospital members of CHA, urging our representative in the US House of Representatives to cosponsor the bill once they return from summer recess on September. 8. Sign up today at http://bit.ly/ACEKidsThunder with your Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr account to ensure that we reach our hospital goal and our message goes out as loudly as possible on September 8 at noon.
Click here to read more about the ACE Kids Act and how Dr. Jennifer Arnold used her voice to Speak Now for Kids. (internal link)
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