When the US House of Representatives failed to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) last week, pediatricians across the country breathed a sigh of relief. Thirty-five million children throughout the country risked losing health care coverage under the proposed AHCA, and were ultimately spared the detrimental impacts on their health and their futures – for now.
Over 400,000 Oregon children currently rely on Medicaid and Children Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) for health care coverage. This coverage means access to health screenings, immunizations, check-ups, and life-saving treatments for children across the state. Schools in Oregon also depend on reimbursements from Medicaid for the health services and screenings they provide. In 2015, Oregon schools received $3.3 million in reimbursements from Medicaid for primary or preventative health services. Any proposal to dismantle Medicaid would put children, especially low-income children, in jeopardy.
Medicaid has a 50-year proven track record of helping children throughout their lives. With Medicaid, kids stay in school and have a better chance of completing college; teens have lower instances of drug and alcohol abuse and mortality rates are reduced; as kids grow into adults, they have greater incomes and wealth because of the early investment in their health. This is the kind of future we want for our kids.
At a time when the rate of children’s health coverage in Oregon and the country is at a historic high, now is not the time to dismantle Medicaid. Children First for Oregon is committed to speaking up for kids at the state and federal level until there is assurance that they will be protected from the undue suffering that can result from a lack of health care coverage. We urge our elected leaders to consider health care reform proposals that build on Oregon’s success in increasing health coverage for kids instead of moving backwards.