Protecting Medicaid, protecting our future
We’re very pleased to feature a piece today by guest writer Carrie Fitzgerald, from fellow child advocates First Focus:
As negotiations on deficit reduction continue in Washington, it is clear that there are few areas of agreement among lawmakers. When it comes to the budget, political and ideological differences are pervasive. Facts and data are turned in many directions to score points. But, when it comes to our children, there are a few things we all can agree on, no matter our political or other differences:
Children are the future. Children are the next generation of workers, the next generation of voters, the next generation of taxpayers, the next generation of members of the military, and the next generation of parents who will raise their own children. When it comes to the future, children epitomize it.
Another thing we agree on? It makes sense to invest in children.
When it comes to investing in children, their education is often the first thing we envision. We want them to learn and challenge their brains and abilities. We want them to grow up to be part of a valuable, trained workforce. But, what if a child is sick, can’t see well, or has a toothache? How well can they learn? How can they concentrate and learn the alphabet, long-division, and chemistry? We all know that truth too, they can’t. When a child is sick, they can’t concentrate, their energy runs down, and their capacity to learn is depleted. How can a child succeed in school if they aren’t healthy enough go to school every day and learn?
Children are always growing and developing, that’s another thing we can see eye to eye on. Children change constantly. In the first year of life they are expected to see a medical provider six times just for well-child care. There are six more appointments before their fifth birthday and then every year after. At every appointment their health, growth and development are monitored and interventions are recommended if needed.
For over 28 million children across the U.S., the medical insurance coverage for those well-child appointments is Medicaid. Half of all the people who health insurance is Medicaid are children. The children who receive Medicaid include some of our nation’s most financially and medically vulnerable. They are the children who need this coverage the most, the children whose parents are down on their luck.
Lawmakers can’t claim to be champions for children at the same time they are looking at taking away their most basic protection and investment: health care coverage that meets their needs and provides them with the chance to grow and develop just as they are supposed to. If our children aren’t healthy and able to learn, America won’t be able to remain the leader in global innovation.
As Members of Congress discuss possible cuts to Medicaid, those who are helped the most by this program– children — won’t be present to tell their stories. They will be in summer school, on playgrounds, at summer jobs, and on baseball diamonds and soccer fields, being kids, doing what kids do. Some, of course, will be in clinics and doctor’s waiting rooms, to get their earache looked at or their speech evaluated. While absent from the discussions in the capitol, these children are counting on Congress to behave like responsible grownups – to allocate scarce resources in their best interest and in the best interest of our nation, and to join their political platitudes with action to ensure that every child in America is able to have their basic health needs met. There are plenty of ineffective government programs to cut, but health coverage for children isn’t one of them.
Medicaid coverage keeps children healthy and supports those who need it most. Medicaid is an essential investment in their future. Cutting it now virtually ensures that we will have a less educated, less healthy next generation following us. If we truly care about our children and our future prosperity as a nation we must do better.