In response to yet another attempt to reverse the progress America has made in improving child health coverage and access, Children’s Health Fund strongly urges Congress to reject the Graham-Cassidy health care proposal, which could bring significant harm to the future health and well-being of children.
Introduced last week by Senators Graham (S.C.), Cassidy (La.), Heller (Nev.) and Johnson (Wis.), the bill comes in the aftermath of previous unsuccessful efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Like its ill-conceived predecessors, Graham-Cassidy aims squarely at the Medicaid program, which is the bedrock and critical program architecture that delivers on the nation’s commitment to providing health insurance coverage and care access to economically disadvantaged children and families.
Children’s Health Fund, in concert with the nation’s foremost child health provider, policy and advocacy organizations, recognizes that provisions within Graham-Cassidy will undermine and unravel significant achievements that have been made for children in the past few decades. The bill would repeal Medicaid expansion that occurred under the ACA and eliminate the critical subsidies provided to enable purchasing of insurance coverage. Most importantly and alarmingly for children, the bill would cap federal payments to state Medicaid programs in 2020, limiting the federal commitment to Medicaid from that point forward and breaking with the national covenant that entitles poor children to a rigorously constructed and certified standard of health care that has prevailed since Medicaid’s inception in 1965.
“With an unprecedented 95% of the nation’s children currently insured, CHF believes strongly that it is time to look forward, not backward” said Dennis Walto, Children’s Health Fund’s Chief Executive Officer. “It is imperative that a collective voice be raised in defense of the principles and priorities that protect the nation’s economically disadvantaged and underserved.”
Given the monumental stakes CHF strongly advises that Congress hold bipartisan hearings to accommodate the comprehensive analysis, debate and discussion needed to fully determine the potential impact of the bill, particularly for affected children. Due diligence must take precedence over the September 30th deadline.
It should be noted that there are ready alternatives that can reinforce and strengthen the child health safety net. CHF recommends that, in the final few weeks of September, congressional attention be expanded to focus on renewal of Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding, ensuring that coverage for nearly 9 million children is protected, and reauthorization of Community Health Center funding.