Legislation that harms children is not health-care reform

Real health-care reform should focus on providing the most cost-effective care and reducing waste in the system instead of wholesale tearing down the safeguards Medicaid provides for child health.

LET’S be honest: Taking health care away from our most vulnerable populations, including children from low-income families and children with special health-care needs, will not promote health and has nothing to do with care.

Washington state can proudly claim one of the country’s lowest rates of uninsured children, thanks to a longstanding commitment to providing access to timely, quality health care for kids. Medicaid covers more than 30 million children nationwide; nearly half of Washington’s children (more than 800,000) have coverage through our state’s Medicaid program, Apple Health for Kids.

Medicaid is the single largest insurer of children in Washington. Children enrolled in Medicaid do better in school, miss fewer days due to illness and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college than their peers without health-care insurance.

A strong Medicaid program means children living in or near poverty get preventive care and immunizations to keep them healthy and ready to learn. It means children don’t have to go to the emergency room when they have a routine illness that could be treated more appropriately — and at a lower cost — in a primary-care setting. It means that children with disabilities get access to specialists and the therapy they need. It means children with life-threatening conditions can receive treatment without devastating financial consequences to their families. It means children in foster care who face poverty, family dysfunction, neglect and abuse have access to the consistent health care they need to thrive.

Who would be so cruel as to deny children this care?

Apparently many in Congress would. The “American Health Care Act” (AHCA), the House version of health-care reform, is estimated to result in a 21 percent cut ($708 million) to Medicaid funding in our state starting in 2020. Our state estimates that the number of uninsured…

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