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The State of the Union Address: What was Said and Not Said about Pediatric Health

On Tuesday, President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address to the nation. Under the overarching theme of opportunity, the President mentioned children throughout the hour-long speech and how new policies put into place by the administration and Congress over the last few years have positively affected them. 

On Tuesday, President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address to the nation. Under the overarching theme of opportunity, the President mentioned children throughout the hour-long speech and how new policies put into place by the administration and Congress over the last few years have positively affected them. Among the President’s proposals for sounder early childhood education and greater fiscal opportunity for all young people, three specific health-related achievements were championed in his State of the Union address:

  • Early in his speech, the president noted that prescription drugs are now more accessible for families and children under the Affordable Care Act. Obama stated that, “A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford.”
  • The “Let’s Move!” campaign, which partners with schools, businesses, and local leaders, has helped to bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in thirty years – an achievement President Obama said will “improve lives and reduce health care costs for decades to come.”
  • Lastly, the president reiterated one of the greatest achievements of the Affordable Care Act, the ability for more than 3 million Americans under age 26 to gain and remain covered by their parents' health care plans.

While these achievements will have far-reaching positive consequences for children and young adults, some topics were absent from the speech regarding important pediatric healthcare and hospital legislation such as:

  • Uninsured Children – Ten percent of children in the United States remain uninsured. Nearly half of those uninsured kids are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, but their families may not know it.
  • Pediatric Research Funding – Sequestration dollars cut from the NIH budget need to be restored so pediatric research specifically can continue to thrive.
  • The Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Payment Program (CHGME) – This vital investment in children’s health needs to be supported by Congress and the president because it is vital to the future of pediatric care in this country. CHGME recipient hospitals, which account for just one percent of all hospitals, train nearly half of all pediatricians.
  • The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – This program provides free or low-cost health coverage to more than eight million children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Each state designs its own CHIP program (within Federal guidelines), including eligibility, benefits, premiums and cost-sharing, and application and renewal procedures. However the program is scheduled to expire in Sept. 2015 unless Congress reauthorizes the program.

To learn more about pediatric health issues that affect all out children, visit the Speak Now for Kids Issues page and find out how you can advocate for children’s health.


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