Good public policy solves a societal problem. Great public policy does that and benefits all, lending credence to the cliché that a rising tide lifts all boats.
As we do for seniors, we have good policies when it comes to the health of children in the form of effective public health insurance programs, Medicaid and CHIP. But those boats can and do leak and children can’t bail themselves out on their own. Nor should they.
We all agree children are not accountable for the circumstances of their lives. That’s why we work hard for stronger public education and quality pre-k so that all children can have the opportunities to succeed.
You know that children with physical and intellectual disabilities attend public school, but what you may not know is that Medicaid makes learning possible for children with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Medicaid reimbursed PA public schools approximately $135 million ($39.7 million in southeast PA, alone) for the health-related services that make it possible for the most fragile of all children to attend school. Already these services are underfunded, but now they are at risk of being eliminated thanks to massive cuts proposed by the Trump administration.
It’s hard to even imagine any lawmaker being in favor of cutting care for children who are immobilized by spina bifida or cerebral palsy or who require help eating through feeding tubes or have breathing tubes that must be cleared to stay open. But make no mistake the Administration’s gutting of Medicaid will mean these children will suffer.
If that happens, ALL students will lose out because non-Medicaid school funds will have to be diverted to help these children attend school. Your next property tax hike could be the one that’s imposed to cover the Medicaid deficit caused by Congressional action. If not a tax increase, schools will have to layoff teachers or make other harsh choices that will affect every student.
Students deserve better than legislators poking holes in a policy that fills a vital need.
The fact that 96% of all children were covered by public or private health insurance was cause for national pride. But the cuts proposed will simply add tens of thousands of children without coverage including the 111,000 PA eligible children who remain uninsured, let alone those who are ineligible because they lack legal status.
Besides the poorer health of kids, an oddly underappreciated consequence of so many uninsured kids is the actual financial cost of caring for them. Uninsured kids don’t get minor issues taken care of—but they end up in hospital emergency rooms when untreated issues bloom into health crises.
Enter: The High Cost of Uncompensated Care
Pennsylvania hospitals already deliver more than $126 million in uncompensated health care to children mostly for non-elective surgery like appendectomies and tonsillectomies.
One children’s hospital spent roughly $4,600 per child in uncompensated care – almost double the $2,500 annual cost to cover a child with public health insurance.
We all pay for uncompensated care costs for children who are uninsured – one way or the other. Now is the time to strengthen policies that work, not try to sink them, because it turns out we’re all in the same big boat.