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Congressional Super Committee Convenes to Cut $1.5 Trillion from Federal Budget; What Does it Mean for Kids?

by Deirdre Byrne, Director of Policy, Children's Health Fund

The summer recess behind them, Congressional members returned to Washington this week to tackle the next step in critical budget negotiations.  In August, Congress passed and the President signed a budget plan that cuts $1.1 trillion from the federal budget, starting in 2013.  As part of the agreement, a Joint Select Committee (Super Committee) was created to find an additional $1.5 trillion in spending cuts.  The Super Committee must pass this budget proposal by November 23rd and while the goal is $1.5 trillion in cuts, the proposal must cut the federal budget by at least $1.2 trillion.

Celebrating 15 Years on the Teen Health Van

Dr. Seth Ammerman, Medical Director, San Francisco Peninsula Children's Health Project
By Dr. Seth Ammerman, Medical Director, San Francisco Peninsula Children's Health Project

For the past 15 years, I’ve had one of the greatest jobs in the world. In September of 1996, I hopped on board as the medical director of the Teen Health Van for the San Francisco Peninsula Children’s Health Project, a partnership of Children’s Health Fund and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.  The clinic on wheels was established to provide accessible, comprehensive health care to uninsured youth in the San Francisco Bay Area and as with all of CHF’s programs we wanted the Health Van to be a place our patients could depend on – a place where they knew they could see a doctor or nurse that they could trust.  Since we launched 15 years ago, our van has been just that for over 3,500 kids in the San Francisco area.

National Health Care for the Homeless Day in New York

by Deirdre Byrne, Director of Policy, Children's Health Fund

Every year, Children's Health Fund (CHF) and the New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP) celebrate National Health Care for the Homeless Day in New York.  This year, as sponsors of the event at the federal office building in downtown New York, CHF and NYCHP participated in a half day forum that included several distinguished speakers and the presentation of the Health Care Heros award to Grace Padillo-Matthew, senior social worker at the NYCHP.  Grace works hand in hand with physicians on NYCHP’s mobile units, helping children and families navigate the emotional, logistical and bureaucratic challenges of being homeless in New York City.

Congratulations to Grace and all of the other heroes and "she"roes who do their best to help homeless children and families in New York every day.

What Does the Budget Deal Mean for Kids?

by Deirdre Byrne, Director of Policy, Children's Health Fund

After months of wrangling and posturing, Congress passed and President Obama is expected to sign a budget bill that allows the U.S. to meet debt obligations by raising the debt ceiling.  In exchange for lifting the debt ceiling, Congressional leaders agreed to a budget deal that aims to cut at least $2.1 and up to $2.4 trillion in federal government spending over the next ten years.  The deal would accomplish these savings in a series of steps:

News from Around the Network

By Delaney Gracy, MD, MPH, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Children's Health Fund

Happy summer blog readers!  We hope you are enjoying these summer months, staying cool and finding some time to relax with family and friends.

We thought you’d be interested in reading about some exciting awards, events & stories we’ve heard from our programs over the past few months.

Detroit’s Medical Director, Dr. Elliott Attisha was named one of Ambassador Magazine’s “Hot Docs” of 2011.  This annual contest highlights the work of Metro Detroit area doctors who are “reaching beyond the call of duty” and serving as leaders within the health care industry in Detroit.  Check out the great feature article on Dr. Attisha and the Children’s Health Project of Detroit.  Congrats to Dr. Attisha on the award!

An amazing story comes out of our Memphis Children’s Health Project and demonstrates the importance and commitment of the mobile clinic staff. What started as a typical day on the Mobile Medical Clinic quickly turned into a potentially devastating afternoon.  While one student in the clinic began suffering from a severe asthma attack, another student arrived to the principal’s office, also having trouble breathing.  Nurse Terrie Whitfield ensured the first student was treated for his asthma attack but felt that the second student’s symptoms were more serious and insisted that he be taken by paramedics to the Emergency Room.  At the hospital, clinicians detected a blood clot, among other health issues.  Thanks to Nurse Terrie’s insight, the student was able to get the proper treatment and is doing well today. According to the principal of the school, “I can truly say that if [the Le Bonheur staff] had not been there, the results could have been very different and even tragic.”  Check out Le Bonheur’s newsletter for the full story.

A great clip about a new program organized by CHF’s Baton Rouge Children’s Health Project was recently featured on Louisiana’s Channel 9 News.  The project teamed up with Varsity Sports and the Big Buddy Program to promote exercise and overall health among 4th and 5th grade students at an elementary school where our clinic provides services.  Children who laced up and completed a summer running camp were rewardedwith brand new sneakers and other prizes.  The program wasdeveloped to encourage exercise, but also to build self-esteem and help address the obesity problem in Louisiana. 

Help Protect Kids from Severe Budget Cuts Now!

By Dennis Johnson, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, Children's Health Fund

Leaders in Washington are edging closer to a budget resolution, but it remains unclear what will happen to crucial health care safety net programs, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  These programs provide health insurance to 35 million children throughout the country.

It looks increasingly likely that Congress will adopt a budget deal that includes billions in health care cuts.  These cuts threaten the ability of our health care safety net to respond to the needs of millions of children and will have an impact for years to come.

In an effort to defend critical health care programs, the Children’s Health Fund gathered child advocate groups with a united message to Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Boehner: There are no “do-overs” for childhood.  Cutting safety net programs when they are most needed would have dire consequences for children today and for years to come.  Click here to read the letter.

But our voices aren’t enough.  We need you to send a message to your lawmakers in support of critical safety net programs.  Click here to write a letter now!

Study Shows: Medicaid Improves Lives

By Deirdre Byrne, Director of Policy

As reported in last week’s New York Times, a ground-breaking recent study shows that Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low-income Americans, has significant benefits to those enrolled. This confirms what clinicians in the field who work with Medicaid populations see every day: Medicaid improves access to health care and quality of life of those enrolled.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Bureau of Economic Research, and Providence Health & Services conducted the first-of-its-kind analysis of 90,000 people who participated in a lottery for Medicaid in Oregon. The state operated the lottery with 10,000 possible slots for low-income adults, those with incomes below the federal poverty level ($10,400 for a single person and $21,200 for a family of four). After one year, researchers compared utilization, financial strain and perceived health of those who had access to Medicaid and those who did not.

Overall, researchers found that compared to people without insurance, those with Medicaid had better access to and used more health care. In addition, they were less likely to experience unpaid medical bills, or medical debt. Medicaid enrollees were more likely to report being in good physical health, and they were less likely to report feeling depressed. Specifically, the study found that those with Medicaid were:

  • 35 percent more likely to go to a clinic or see a doctor;
  • 15 percent more likely to use prescription drugs;
  • 25 percent more likely to say that their health was good or excellent; and
  • 40 percent less likely to say that their health had worsened in the past year.

While these findings are based on an adult population, Medicaid has long been known to improve access to care and use of services for children. Research has shown that children with Medicaid are more likely to have a usual source of care, lower frequency of unmet health needs and better access to medical services compared to poor children without health insurance.1

As states and the federal government make budget decisions that impact the future of the Medicaid program and the program’s ability to successfully ensure access to health care, it is important that policymakers balance the benefits of insuring 60 million people, including 30 million children, against short-term political gains. Want to weigh in on the current budget debate? Visit our advocacy action center.

1 Paul W. Newacheck, Michelle Pearl, Dana C. Hughes, Neal Halfon, The Role of Medicaid in Ensuring Children’s Access to Care, JAMA, November 25, 1998, Vol 280, No. 20.

Happy 4th of July Weekend!!

LIttle Girl With American FlagWe're proud to celebrate America this weekend - a country where people are concerned with the well being of their neighbors.  Thank you to all of the Corporations, Foundations, and individuals that support CHF and the children we serve.  With your continued help, we can bring health care to the kids that need it most and strive to make America a healthier and happier place to live.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday weekend with your family & friends.  


CHF Doctors Mobilize on Capitol Hill for America’s Kids

By Caroline DeRosa, Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy, Children's Health Fund

This week, medical directors from Children’s Health Fund projects across the country are meeting in Washington, D.C., to speak with legislators about the human costs associated with cutting health care benefits for children. With new legislation threatening to do just that, CHF is launching into action to protect the benefits that children need to grow up healthy.

The health care reform legislation passed last year protects, through “maintenance of effort” (MOE) provisions, gains achieved for children in public health safety-net programs. In practical terms, that means that through 2014 states must maintain their Medicaid eligibility standards as they were in place prior to the passage of health care reform. In fact, the MOE provisions further require states to maintain their pediatric Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) standards through 2019.

Unfortunately, under the current recession, states are looking for ways to reduce Medicaid and CHIP spending – at a time when the need for public health insurance is even greater due to loss of jobs and insurance coverage. In May, the State Flexibility Act was introduced in Congress, with the intent of repealing the MOE requirements for Medicaid and CHIP. Passage of that legislation would allow states to reduce coverage to mandatory federal minimum levels of Medicaid and scale back or eliminate their CHIP programs – a devastating prospect to the 35 million children covered by Medicaid and CHIP.

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