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When health reform resurfaces, don't let special needs children get lost in the shuffle

While we catch our breath from a year of legislative proposal after legislative proposal aiming to dramatically reshape our health care system, it’s critical that we understand the particular threats those proposals posed to children with special health care needs. During the Capitol Hill debates, many of our politicians said they were committed to “protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions,” yet few of their bills actually did so for children and adolescents. Since we can only expect that these reform efforts will continue, we must work to educate lawmakers and their staff on the unique needs of children when it comes to health care.

In June, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional health policy staff and do just that. There, I presented research on how many lower-income, working families are now relying on public health insurance to insure their children, likely because family coverage either isn’t offered through their employers or is no longer affordable. This migration of the working family to the public insurance market for their children’s health coverage, I explained, provided a worrisome lens through which to view any proposed arbitrary spending cuts to Medicaid – cuts that could endanger far more families than our legislators realize.

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