Action Required

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I’m excited to be writing again. The topic I wanted to bring up today is one that has been gaining a lot of press this week and is one that deserves our attention. The majority of the patients that I see every day in the hospital and clinics are supported by Medicaid or CHIP (Child Health Insurance Program). In Ohio, about 973,000 children are covered by Medicaid! That is a number that we cannot ignore.

Yesterday (May 4, 2017) the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) with a 217 to 213 vote. The implications of this can be confusing along with a lot of legal jargon. I wanted to clarify some information and to create action around this important issue. Before we dive in, though, I want to provide a disclaimer, I will be focusing on the AHCA’s implications for the pediatric world, but its affects reach other disadvantaged populations as well.Phyisican-Ear-Consultation-Child-Patient-Health-Wellness-Cancer-Fighter-Columbus-Doctor

Lets briefly look at our current Affordable Care Act (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act). When this was implemented in 2014, it improved pediatric care in three main ways:

1.) Improved access to covered services by investing $8.3 billion in federal funds to bring Medicaid compensation to at least Medicare compensation rates and strengthened support for primary care providers. 

2.) Provided age-appropriate benefits to children through medical home funding, Bright Future services, along with other programs.

3.) Increased health insurance coverage for children and families (expanding it to 32 million individuals), and preserved CHIP through 2019.

Though there are gaps within this program that still need to be addressed, the proposed AHCA dismantles many of the advances that have been taken. Some of the specific concerns of the proposed act is:

1.) Eliminates federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid (remember that about 973,000 children in Ohio are covered by Medicaid).

2.) Sets caps on federal Medicaid funding. These caps would put extreme strains on states and lead to an increase in amount of uninsured children.

3.) Allows annual and lifetime limits on coverage. For neonates that are born prematurely, these limits can be reached even before they leave the hospital for the first time!

White-House-US-State-Representatives-Health-Care-Act-Affordable-Paul-Ryan-Speaker-Health-CareI could continue to discuss this, however, I strongly encourage you to take action. Our children will eventually become adults and in order to assure that they receive the best opportunities to thrive and succeed, we need to prioritize on nurturing their mind, body and spirits during this  influential time in their lives. I urge you to learn more about the changes occurring and discuss these with our leadership.

This week I was at our State House and asked one of our representatives what the most effective and influential thing to do regarding voicing our concerns and recommendations. He stated that face-to-face visits are key. If you are unable to do this call or email.

Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible. – St. Francis of Assisi

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Meredith Merkley

More about Meredith Merkley

Meredith Merkley was born in the mountains of Colorado, but moved to Ohio, New Mexico and then Arizona. She has a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Northern Arizona University. Afterwards, she packed her bags again and moved to Ohio where she graduated as a D.O. from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency at Nationwide Children's Hospital and is currently in an academic/advocacy fellowship.