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As legislative discussions begin regarding the reauthorization of CHIP, it is imperative to keep in mind how proposed cuts could be detrimental to the health and future of our nation’s children.
The recent defeat of the Health Care Freedom Act in the U.S. Senate was a positive step in the fight to protect children’s healthcare. I’m grateful to the health care advocates who gave children a voice and fought to protect the quality care that they deserve. But, discussions surrounding the future of our nation’s health care policy are not yet over, and we must remain diligent in working with lawmakers in a bipartisan way to keep kids and their families covered.
Continuing to protect Medicaid is as important as ever as we face the next pivotal healthcare decision: the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is a long-standing bipartisan-supported program that provides low-cost health coverage for 6 million children across the country, specifically for families whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid, but who cannot afford private insurance. Its authorization expires at the end of September, and with that date quickly approaching, some lawmakers are considering a CHIP reauthorization bill as a potential vehicle for broader healthcare policy changes-including elements of repeal and replace and with that, a possible reduction to Medicaid.
Children’s health and well-being are paramount to the success and stability of both our state and our nation’s future. However, as often is the case in general healthcare policy discussions, the needs and concerns of the child population are overshadowed by the much larger expenditures generated by adult populations. Healthcare policy and legislative measures directly impact the collective system’s ability to deliver uncompromised quality and access to excellent care to all patients.
There are four things that health executives, private insurers and the general population of the United States should know about how a failure to reauthorize CHIP, or cuts to Medicaid, would affect children’s health.
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I echo the recent statements made by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association-we are grateful to lawmakers who voted to protect children, but the work is not over. As legislative discussions begin regarding the reauthorization of CHIP, it is imperative to keep in mind how proposed cuts could be detrimental to the health and future of our nation’s children. We must stand together to remain vigorous advocates for health coverage and access for our most vulnerable patients, including children.
Christopher Dawes, is CEO and president of Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.