Children’s Boston saved my daughter’s life and Medicaid saved us from bankruptcy, Meg Comeau, Director, the Catalyst Center.
On January 25, 2012, the Congressional Children’s Health Care Caucus helped host the first in a four-part series of briefings addressing why Medicaid is essential to children’s health care. The briefing addressed the basic structure of Medicaid, the children it covers, and how it serves families during an economic downturn. The briefing was sponsored by the Children’s Hospital Association (formerly the National Association of Children’s Hospitals), the American Academy of Pediatrics, Family Voices, First Focus, March of Dimes, and the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.
- Leighton Ku, Ph.D., Director, Center for Health Policy Research, George Washington University
- Bob Duncan, MBA, Executive Vice President of Community Services, Children’s Hospital and Health System, Milwaukee, WI
- Meg Comeau, MHA, Director, the Catalyst Center, Health & Disability Working Group, Boston University School of Public Health
- Jocelyn Guyer, Co-executive Director, Georgetown Center for Children and Families
Leighton Ku, Ph.D., a professor of health policy at George Washington University spoke to the fundamentals of the Medicaid program and how it works for children. He touched on the fact that children with Medicaid are more prone to health problems than children with private insurance and also discussed that in spite of this inequity, Medicaid is viable as a low cost way to provide health insurance coverage to children. Children on Medicaid are 25 to 30 percent less costly to cover than children with private insurance.
The second panelist, Bob Duncan with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, spoke to the comprehensive structure of Medicaid’s Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) approach to care. This approach is particularly important to children with special needs.
“Private plans do not provide EPSDT to children with special needs; these children receive better, more comprehensive care from Medicaid,” said Duncan.
He also discussed the different types of Medicaid waivers and how they allow states the flexibility to tailor the program to best suit the needs of the state’s population.
Meg Comeau discussed the importance of Medicaid to vulnerable populations, such as children with special health care needs. She argued Medicaid is essential to children with disabilities as 45.4 percent of these children rely on public insurance only, compared to 37.5 percent who rely on private insurance only. She also spoke to her personal experience as a mother of a child with a rare genetic disease, and explained that without the extra help Medicaid provided, her family would have faced bankruptcy.
The final presenter, Jocelyn Guyer, spoke to the economic pressure the program has been under due to the poor financial situations facing state budgets. Indeed, more than 40 states have cut payment to Medicaid providers in their FY 2012 budgets. She also spoke to how the poor economy nationwide has affected families with children who qualify for Medicaid, stating that the Medicaid program has given families peace of mind during the economic downturn. She also provided a quote from a patient at Georgetown Center for Children and Families.
"Without Medicaid my family would have declared bankruptcy years ago. I wouldn't have my scooter to get around and I wouldn't be able to live such a productive, independent life. I have big plans for my future and Medicaid is helping me achieve those dreams," Laura Rodgers, 11-year old from Lebanon with mitochondrial disease whose family uses Medicaid to supplement her parents' employer-based insurance
During the question and answer session, the moderator, Jim Kaufman, vice president of public policy for the Children’s Hospital Association, responded to a question about ways to cut costs in Medicaid. He explained that proposals to simply block grant or shift costs to the states are the wrong way to go.
“Block grants cause cost-shifting that further burdens the financially strapped state budgets. Instead, children’s hospitals want to improve access to care while reducing costs,” said Kaufman.
The next briefing, scheduled for Thursday, March 22 at 1 p.m. ET in House Visitor Center room 201, will dive deeper into this topic and expand upon innovations in Medicaid payment models. For more information, visit tinyurl.com/medicaidmattersforkids.
For more information contact Norida Torriente, associate director of Public Relations,
Children’s Hospital Association, 703-797-6059, firstname.lastname@example.org.