Families Come to Washington to Speak to Health Reform Implementation

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 General News
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June 15-16 Marks Family Advocacy Day - Making Health Reform Work for Kids

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Under the new health reform law, children will benefit in multiple ways by enabling them to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26; by exempting them from lifetime caps under private insurance; and by preventing private insurers from denying coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions. More than 220 child patients, families and children's hospitals leaders, representing 21 states, will arrive in Washington, D.C. to share their personal health care stories with lawmakers and highlight issues specific to pediatrics that should be addressed by Congress and the Administration as health reform is implemented.

This grassroots effort is part of the National Association of Children's Hospitals (N.A.C.H.) Family Advocacy Day taking place on June 15-16 in the nation's capitol.

"The families coming to N.A.C.H. Family Advocacy Day received timely, high-quality care and that's the way our health system should work," said Lawrence McAndrews, president and CEO of N.A.C.H. "Health reform will extend coverage to millions more Americans, including children, yet not all children have ready access to care even though they have insurance."

Mira Raether, the only girl in a set of premature triplets, struggled with health issues before she even left the womb. Her brothers grew out of their preemie issues, but Mira needed heart surgery and then was found to have renal acidosis, a result of her kidneys not correcting the pH balance in her blood. This condition affected her growth, heart, hormones and other functions, necessitating a kidney transplant at the age of three at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. The overall costs of Mira's specialty care resulted in the Raether family hitting their lifetime private insurance cap. However, Mira's condition of end stage renal disease (ESRD) qualified her for treatment coverage under Medicare, the federal health program for seniors. (ESRD is a pediatric condition covered by Medicare). Mira's family is representative of the kinds of families who would benefit under the new health reform law, which exempts children from lifetime caps.

"We had access to the amazing pediatric specialists at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin - right in our back yard," said Sheryl Raether, Mira's mother. "Without Medicare coverage for Mira's transplant, the lifetime private insurance cap would have left us dealing with Mira's multiple needs without a source of insurance. No person, no matter how rich, poor, young, old, healthy or sick should ever be denied the health care they need."

"It's tempting to believe, and parents want to believe, that a health insurance card equals care. The truth is that barriers to timely care remain, and a national shortage of doctors in pediatric specialties results in delayed care and long wait times for appointments. These are the kinds of issues we continue to monitor and are working to address through legislation and regulation," added McAndrews.

In addition to a national shortage of pediatric specialists, other issues that create barriers to quality health care for sick children include:

To follow news on Family Advocacy Day as it happens, follow #FAD10 on Twitter or find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NACHAllStars#__pages_NACH_Family_Advocacy_Day_Alumni_Page_106399756065567.

About the National Association of Children's Hospitals

The National Association of Children's Hospitals - N.A.C.H. - is the public policy affiliate of NACHRI. N.A.C.H. is a trade organization of 141 children's hospitals and supports children's hospitals in addressing public policy issues that affect their ability to fulfill their missions to serve children and their families. N.A.C.H. fulfills its mission and vision through federal advocacy, collaboration and communication designed to strengthen the ability of children's hospitals and health systems to influence public policy makers, understand federal and state policy issues, advance access and quality of health care for all children, and sustain financially their missions of clinical care, education, research and advocacy.

For more information on Family Advocacy Day, visit www.childrenshospitals.net.

-- The decline in the number of pediatricians accepting Medicaid patients due to low reimbursement; -- The threat of state Medicaid cuts, which can impact all children, regardless of type of health care coverage; -- Cuts in supplemental funding (disproportionate share hospital or DSH payments) that helps offset children's hospitals' losses associated with treating a disproportionate share of Medicaid and uninsured patients; -- Underfunding of physician training programs at children's teaching hospitals; and -- Inconsistent pediatric measures and incentives for quality improvement across states.

SOURCE National Association of Children's Hospitals

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