Ellie Schmidt of Center Point, Iowa, age 9

One local family is taking their story to Capitol Hill to urge Congress to protect, not cut, children’s Medicaid funding as proposed in recently introduced federal bills, the American Health Care Act of 2017 and the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. The Schmidt family’s effort in Washington, D.C., is part of a broad national push to address key health care needs for children through the Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day, July 12-13, 2017, sponsored by the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA). 

As scientific advances have made it possible for more kids to survive serious conditions, a growing number of children are relying on Medicaid to help meet their complex medical needs. Of the more than 30 million kids enrolled in Medicaid, at least 2 million have complex medical conditions like congenital heart disease, cerebral palsy and cancer. Ellie Schmidt of Center Point, Iowa, age 9, was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She is treated at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital by Thomas Scholz, M.D. and his team of pediatric cardiologists. Ellie and her parents, Kevin and Heidi Schmidt, will meet with their members of Congress to share how Medicaid coverage benefits her care and how the House and Senate health-care bills could negatively affect their lives.

Ellie’s parents are fully aware of just how important Medicaid is for children’s access to health care.

“It’s impossible to financially plan for a child that has hundreds of thousands of dollars owed in medical bills by the time she is two,” said Ellie’s mother, Heidi. “She will always need to have those doctor visits and therefore, those medical bills. Our private insurance only pays for a small part of it. We are fighting to keep her health coverage so she can be healthy.”

According to a recent report by Avalere Health, the U.S. House-passed American Health Care Act, on which the Senate bill was modeled, would cut Medicaid funding for children by at least $43 billion over 10 years by eliminating Medicaid’s open entitlement and replacing it with a capped system that limits Medicaid funding to states. Avalere estimates that Iowa could see a funding reduction of $283 million by 2026. As children represent nearly half of all Medicaid enrollees but less than 20 percent of program costs, a severe cut to Medicaid funding would disproportionately affect them. 

The ACE Kids Act of 2017 would save Medicaid an estimated $13 billion over 10 years through coordinated care delivery crossing state lines. The bill is supported by a bipartisan group of 17 senators, and a House version is expected soon. 

More than 40 percent of children rely on Medicaid, and so do the roughly 200 children's hospitals, like the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, that deliver highly specialized pediatric care 24/7. 

“Dramatic cuts to Medicaid as proposed in the House and Senate bills endanger the continued viability of our nation's children's hospitals,” said CHA President and CEO Mark Wietecha. “As a matter of public policy, we should not be attempting to fix our national budget problems by cutting children's health care.”

About the Children’s Hospital Association:
The Children’s Hospital Association is the national voice of more than 200 children’s hospitals, advancing child health through innovation in the quality, cost, and delivery of care.

For more information on Family Advocacy Day, visit their website or follow the families on Facebook and Twitter.

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