Advocates: Failed GOP health-care plan bad for children

NC Child’s Sarah Vidrine encourages people to call their representative at a community meeting held at Hope Presbyterian Church on Thursday, March 23.

Advocates: Failed GOP health-care plan bad for children
March 30
05:20 2017



Photo by Todd Luck

Just a day before the Republicans’ American Health Care Act (AHCA) was pulled, activists were warning it would lead to cuts in Medicare that would hurt children and urged concerned citizens to call their lawmakers.

The community meeting held Thursday, March 23, at Hope Presbyterian Church by NC Child and Advocates for Medically Fragile Kids NC highlighted just two of many groups that were opposed to the AHCA.

Republicans campaigned on a promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. AHCA, also known as Trumpcare, was meant to be that replacement but was met with opposition from all sides, some saying it didn’t repeal enough of the ACA while others denounced the cuts it made. Millions were projected to loose coverage under AHCA. The bill was pulled from consideration from the House of Representatives on Friday. Democrats uniformly opposed it and not enough Republicans would vote for it.

Last week’s local event highlighted one of the lesser known issues in the AHCA, its effects on children. Currently, a record high 96 percent of children are insured in the state. This record high rate is due largely to Medicaid, a program whose federal funding the AHCA would cap. This would lead to Medicaid cuts and children losing coverage, said NC Child Senior Policy Analyst  Sarah Vidrine.

“We don’t want to take one step backward,” she said.

Medicaid insures children with disabilities or who are in foster care or a low income family. More than half of Medicaid recipients are children. It covers all medically necessary services and lets kids get needed preventive care during their formative years.

“Medicaid has been really, really effective in helping kids grow up to reach their full potential,” said Vidrine.

The ACA also benefits children by guaranteeing preventive services, letting those under 26 years-old stay on their parents insurance, ensuring coverage for pre-existing conditions and helping millions afford insurance with tax subsidies. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program is also a big factor, covering 78,000 children who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Its federal funding expires this year and will require an act of Congress to preserve the program.

Vidrine encouraged attendees to call their representatives that night and leave messages telling them not to cut Medicaid. NC Child, a Raleigh-based advocacy group, has been touring the state, encouraging people to mobilize to preserve the ACA and Medicaid.

Advocates for Medically Fragile Kids NC, a Facebook group with local ties, was also there because they feared Medicaid cuts would result in the loss of coverage for medically fragile children.

Jenny Hobbs, one of the group’s co-founders, said that the group started to advocate against a proposed cut to a Medicaid waiver called CAP C (Community Alternatives Program for Children) that allows mothers like her to take care of their medically fragile children at home.  The group, with more than 1,600 members online, succeeded in preserving the waiver from state cuts and then turned to protecting it from AHCA cuts.

“We shifted our advocacy to make our legislators realize the type of positions they’ll be put in with this act,” said Hobbs. “Do you realize that the federal laws are going to put you in the position of determining who gets Medicaid and who gets what services?”

On Monday, Vidrine said she was glad to see the AHCA was pulled. She said NC Child’s next areas of concern are the U.S. Department of Health Human and Services moving to dismantle parts of the ACA and the proposed restructuring of Medicaid in the state.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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