Children’s health advocates breathed a big sigh of relief and indulged in some cautious celebration over the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act today.
Big wins for kids, teens and young adults include:
- Insurance for young adults. Keeping kids on a parent’s health-insurance policy until they’re 26 years old – a benefit some 2.5 million young people are now using. (Before, most kids got kicked off at age 18).
- A bigger menu of preventive care services. Kids covered under new health plans are eligible for many wellness tests and services without extra charges – including vision screenings, vaccines, hearing tests, fluoride supplements (if your tap water is un-fluoridated), and much more. And under the ACA, pregnancy and newborn care as well as dental and vision coverage would be covered in new plans starting in 2014.
- No limit on lifetime care. Over 1 million Pennsylvania kids are benefitting in one way or another from the reform law’s removal of lifetime limits on care, according to Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.
“Today is one for the history books,” said Robert W. Block, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “As pediatricians, our number one goal is to keep children healthy, and we can now do so knowing that a landmark law prioritizes children’s health needs and provides them with the access to care, age-appropriate benefits and coverage options they need and deserve.”
Block says the AAP stood behind the Affordable Care Act because it addresses the same ‘A-B-C’ goals that matter to the group: Providing all children in this country with Access to health care services, age-appropriate Benefits to meet their unique needs, and high-quality, affordable health care Coverage. “Pediatricians have already seen firsthand that health reform works,” said Dr. Block. “Since the Affordable Care Act took effect, millions of children with pre-existing conditions gained health care coverage; 14 million children with private insurance received preventive health services with no co-pay; and 3.1 million more young adults gained coverage through their parents’ plans. These are just a few of the law’s investments in child health, with many more set to take effect over the next few years as affirmed by today’s decision.”
The ruling is a significant win for kids, says First Focus President Bruce Lesley. The group describes itself as a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization “State and federal officials can now get on with the urgent business of effectively and assertively implementing the Affordable Care Act so that more kids can have access to the health care they need. We urge policymakers to act quickly and make the right implementation choices so the Affordable Care Act can continue making progress covering uninsured kids, protecting millions of kids and parents from abusive insurance practices, and delivering quality care for kids from head to toe.”
Children have been some of the biggest winners in the health reform law, and now millions of American families can breathe easier knowing care will be accessible and affordable,” says Bill Bentley, president and CEO of Voices for America’s Children, the nation’s largest network of multi-issue child advocacy groups. “With the fate of health reform now clear, every state should proceed with implementation of the law, full speed ahead. A number of states have been dragging their feet when it comes to establishing the new insurance markets for health plans, but now they must start laying the groundwork if the law is to benefit everyone by 2014.”
Bentley voiced concern about one aspect of the ruling, which means state governments aren’t required to expand their Medicaid programs. Medicaid is a vital health support for low-income families, and the health reform law would have grown the program significantly. Still, this ruling is a big win for kids.
Kids with chronic conditions and multiple health issues will get better treatment as a result, says Mark Wietecha, President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital Association.“Today’s Supreme Court ruling means children – especially chronic and complex patients that children’s hospitals specialize in treating – will continue benefitting from Affordable Care Act provisions including those that prohibit annual and lifetime caps on coverage,” Wietecha notes. “Children’s hospitals are innovating care delivery for this special-needs population through such models as medical homes with funding from CMMI (the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation) and through other collaboratives. This care not only improves pediatric outcomes but takes costs out of the system – a goal shared by Congress and the Obama Administration.”