Today the mad dash efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and radically restructure Medicaid came to an abrupt halt when Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump were unable to garner enough votes to pass the American Health Care Act. This bill had taken a sharp detour from the normal path to the floor of the House without hearings or time for comprehensive analysis of the proposed changes to the health care system. If there had been hearings on the bill, here are some of the points Members of Congress may have had the time to consider:
- How devastating it would be if essential health benefit standards were scrapped and children and families had to face the prospect of limited benefits and lifetime and annual caps on their health care coverage. Before the ACA became law, we heard heart-wrenching stories about newborns in intensive care units hitting caps on their coverage within their first weeks of life.
- How Medicaid is the MVP of children’s coverage and provides a critical link to academic and economic success. Children covered by Medicaid are more likely to graduate from high school and complete college than uninsured children. Capping Medicaid funding to states could leave some children out of the program—and out of the loop for success.
- How Medicaid expansion has helped more parents and caregivers gain coverage and why that is so important to the healthy development and financial security of America’s children. Who would want to turn back the clock to the days when unpaid medical bills forced so many families into medical bankruptcy.
The needs of children and families should be front and center in any future plans to reform the health care system. As the American Academy of Pediatrics summarized so succinctly: “Children are our future, and their future depends on a strong Medicaid program.”