Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

As the U.S. Senate plans to vote on its own health care legislation, Louisiana pediatricians are urging lawmakers, including Senator Bill Cassidy and Senator John Kennedy, to protect children’s health care coverage by keeping Medicaid strong.

The Senate is preparing to vote on a bill that would fundamentally change the way Medicaid works. By dismantling Medicaid through capped funding and the elimination of the Medicaid expansion, those who will suffer the most are those who need health care the most.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program provide health insurance for more than 760,000 children in Louisiana, assuring access to healthcare for approximately 45 percent of the children in our state. Medicaid works for these children, including those with special health care needs and those from low-income families – they are more likely to get check-ups, miss less school, graduate and enter the workforce than their uninsured peers.

While over 50 percent of Medicaid recipients are children, only 23 percent of the Medicaid dollars are used to pay for children’s health care and preventative services in Louisiana. Medicaid guarantees benefits that cover a comprehensive array of services including developmental, vision and hearing screenings. These screenings help diagnose, treat and prevent complex conditions right away, saving money and lives.

Capping funding means these services could be rolled back or eliminated altogether. As pediatricians who treat children across the state of Louisiana, we know first-hand how the program is a lifeline for families. Capping funding for the program is not the answer. By doing this, our state would be responsible for any dollar amount over the fixed cap provided by the federal government. In order for Louisiana to maintain financial solvency, the administration could be forced to make devastating decisions, such as scaling back the Medicaid benefits upon which children rely. This is not the right decision for the people of Louisiana.

Healthy children learn better and grow up to be productive healthy adults, and having affordable, quality health insurance is key to making that possible. Now is a crucial time for all parents, grandparents and state legislators – anyone who cares about children – to speak up to protect Medicaid. The Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics will continue to speak out against any legislation that would set children’s health backward..

We urge Senators Cassidy and Kennedy to protect Medicaid by opposing the Senate’s bill and to do what is right for our country’s future by supporting health care policies that put children and families first.

Dylan Waguespack