Congress Votes to Repeal Health Care Benefits for Children AGAIN

Last Wednesday, for the 33rd time, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. (This in spite of the Supreme Court ruling last month that the law is constitutional.)  Repeal would have a harmful impact on the care children are now receiving and will receive in the future. What would repeal mean?

    • A Return of Pre-existing Coverage Exclusions for Children – Insurance companies could go back to denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, giving their families no protection if their children need extensive care.
    • A Reduction in Coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program – Repealing the law puts at risk the federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Houston Chronicle cartoonist Nick Anderson pulls no punches when it comes to states and Medicaid

  • An End to the Pediatric Benefit Package that Includes Oral and Vision Coverage for all Children – The law requires coverage of not only basic pediatric services under all new health plans, but also oral and vision needs, starting in 2014. Many health plans do not provide coverage for needed child health services, and 12 percent of children have not had a doctor’s visit in the past year. This would continue if Congress repeals the law.
  • An End of the Effort to Improve Quality of Care for Children – The law develops children’s quality priorities and promotes children’s quality measurement and reporting to improve the care that our nation’s children receive.
  • A Denial of Coverage to Families without Employer-Based Care – The law provides health insurance choices through state-based health insurance Exchanges to families without job-based coverage and provides tax credits to those who can’t afford it. Expanding insurance to all children will enable them to access needed care which is proven to enhance their development and learning, laying the foundation for a healthy life. Repealing the law will lead to lifetime health burdens to children denied coverage they would have received through this law.
  • A Return of Lifetime Caps on Coverage – The law ends all lifetime limits on how much insurance companies cover if beneficiaries get sick and bans insurance companies from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Repealing the law will raise health care costs for families and lead to more uninsured children.
  • An End to the Extension of Coverage up to the Age of 26 – The law allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26. Millions of young adults continue to have coverage as a result of this law. Repealing it could lead to insurance companies dropping them as soon as they can or to steep rises in costs.

The US Senate has no intention of holding a vote on repeal this year, and the President has said he will veto this. However, it is important to know exactly what repeal will mean for children if it does go through in the future.

On another health care related issue, while the Supreme Court ruled last month that the law is constitutional, they did make a decision that could impact the planned expansion of Medicaid. The federal government is planning to expand coverage through Medicaid to millions of children and families. The Court said that the federal government can’t threaten a state’s Medicaid funding if they decide to not participate in the expansion. The Every Child Matters Education Fund urges states to take their time, understand the benefits of expansion, and work with the federal government to cover as many children and families as possible. Click here to read more about this issue.