Sunday, June 23, 2024

Rep. Schrier Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Expand Health Care Access for Children

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WASHINGTON, DC – U.S Representative Kim Schrier (D-WA) has introduced the Kids’ Access to Primary Care Act. This bipartisan piece of legislation will increase access to primary care for children and families by strengthening Medicaid.

“As a pediatrician, I have seen firsthand the impact that proper medical care can have for the health and wellbeing of families and children. The current Medicaid payment rate has led to fewer available doctors, longer waiting periods, and overall reduced health care coverage for families across the country. My bill offers a commonsense, clear solution,” said Rep. Schrier. “Almost half of the children in the United States are insured through Medicaid, so the best way to take care of our kids is to strengthen Medicaid.”

Currently, Medicaid pays at a lower rate than Medicare for the same primary care procedures and service. This severely reduces the number of providers who participate in Medicaid and limits access to health care for children and families. In Washington alone, 2.1 million are insured through Medicaid. This includes over 900,000 children who depend on the program for physicals, vaccinations, and other vital primary care needs.

Rep. Schrier’s bill ensures Medicaid pays at least the same rate as Medicare. Experts agree that higher Medicaid payment rates will increase the network and access to care for Medicaid patients.

Congresswoman Schrier is joined in introducing this bill by Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL).

"Medicaid covers one in three children in Pennsylvania. “Now, more than ever, during this health pandemic, it is vital that we ensure all families in our communities have access to the care they need," said Rep. Fitzpatrick. "Our bipartisan, Kids' Access to Primary Care Act, will fix coverage problems, expand eligibility for additional providers, therefore broadening the provider network, and guarantee that families in Pennsylvania, and across our nation, are provided the necessary care to lead full, healthy lives."

"Comprehensive health coverage under the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid is vital for women and children, especially as the public health emergency nears an end. Our pediatricians and other primary care providers keep families healthy and well. Our bill ensures that all families in Florida and across the country receive the health care they need," said Rep. Kathy Castor.

“When we fail to invest in the health care system children rely on – including Medicaid, which provides health care coverage for more than half of all U.S. children – their access to care suffers. We witnessed this failure this past fall, when the surge in pediatric respiratory illnesses, combined with the ongoing youth mental health crisis and the immense strain placed on hospitals and pediatric practices, led to major challenges for families seeking care. The Kids’ Access to Primary Care Act includes needed, practical solutions to fix this, such as aligning Medicaid payment rates with Medicare for primary care services, including for pediatric subspecialties. The American Academy of Pediatrics thanks Representatives Schrier (D-Wash.), Castor (D-Fla.) and Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) for their continued leadership and calls on Congress to advance this important bipartisan legislation without delay,” said AAP President Sandy Chung, MD, FAAP.

“Family physicians know how important it is for children to have timely and equitable access to primary care. The AAFP supports the Kids’ Access to Primary Care Act, which will help raise Medicaid payment rates for primary care services to Medicare levels. Increasing access to Medicaid coverage leads to better health outcomes and reduces longstanding health disparities. We urge Congress to pass this bipartisan legislation to improve access to care and ensure primary care physicians have the resources they need to treat pediatric Medicaid patients," said American Academy of Family Physicians President Tochi Iroku-Malize, MD, MPH, FAAFP.

Access to Medicaid for children can be life changing. Studies have shown that enrolled children, compared to their uninsured peers, are more likely to have a medical check-up, see a dentist, and even perform better academically. This legislation is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and other organizations supporting the health of children and families.

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