May 5, 2017

The GOP Don't Care Bill: Effect on children

Daily Beast - If it passes the Senate and is signed into law by the president, [the GOP healthcare bill] will be an unprecedented setback, fundamentally threatening the stability of guaranteed access to quality health care of some 35 million children who benefit from the current array of safety net programs that poor—and working poor—families depend upon.

The most concerning element of this bill is the provision to transform Medicaid into either a “block grant” or “per-capita cap” system. Either approach would result in drastic cuts to Medicaid and diminished health benefits for nearly half of all American children. Some estimate that Medicaid will sustain as much as $800 billion in cuts over 10 years if this bill is enacted. Given that children make up the largest proportion of Medicaid enrollees, it’s a virtual certainty that they will bear the brunt of these cuts.

Under the current system, every eligible child in America is guaranteed coverage under Medicaid. At least half of the cost is covered by the federal government and the rest by state and local governments. A block grant or per-capita cap system changes this arrangement by limiting the amount of money that the federal government pays into the program, forcing states to make painful decisions to limit the number of children allowed to enroll in Medicaid or reduced benefits.

Right now, children enrolled in Medicaid are entitled to a robust set of benefits, most notably those provided under the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment provisions. That’s a complicated way of saying that children deserve a full range of preventive care including regular health screenings and follow up treatment if necessary. Any diminishment of these benefits poses real risks to the health and well-being of vulnerable kids.

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