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Stanford University School of Medicine

Medicaid changes would hurt health care for all kids, Packard Children’s CEO writes

Although only some children and families are publicly insured, all children are dependent on Medicaid funding, Christopher Dawes, president and CEO of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and Stanford Children's Health, writes in a recent Huffington Post op-ed.

Therefore, proposed changes in federal health care funding could have a severe impact on all kids, even those with private insurance, he writes, explaining:

If Medicaid funding is compromised, it destabilizes the entire children's health care system on two fronts: it reduces care providers' ability to offer specialty programs for chronically ill children, and it ignores the critical role of preventative and wellness care for all kids.

Because relatively few children need specialized care, all of them are sent to regional specialty centers such as Packard Children's. Those hospitals rely on public funding to a much greater degree than adult hospitals, Dawes said, adding:

Historically, when Medicaid has been cut in California, we've seen a reduction of programs that provide specialty services, which reduces access to that care for all patients.

Medicaid also provides vital access to the foundation of preventive primary care for conditions like obesity and asthma, access to immunizations, and the detection of serious conditions, which reduces medical costs down the road.

And we already have a national shortage of pediatric specialist physicians, which could be worsened by proposed federal funding changes, Dawes adds in a longer version of the commentary.

Kids with chronic conditions also can't afford to lose protections introduced by the Affordable Care Act, Dawes writes, such as the removal of annual and lifetime caps on insurance coverage and the requirement to provide coverage regardless of preexisting conditions.

Dawes' piece calls to mind another reason that kids aren't simply small adults: Getting their health care right can potentially pay off with another six, seven or eight or more decades of healthy and happy life.

Previously: Physicians can help patients by connecting with policymakers, says pediatrician, Proposed NIH cuts would affect Stanford Health Policy and Stanford health policy researchers examine new health care bill
Photo courtesy of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford

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