Ensuring children access to comprehensive health coverage is one of the smartest, most cost-effective choices our country can make. The hidden costs of not insuring children include high costs of uncompensated care for those without insurance; use of costly emergency room care instead of early access to primary care; long term treatment of preventable illnesses; and the costs of untreated emotional problems in children whose unmet needs bring them to the child welfare or juvenile justice systems.
Millions of children and families are already depending on the protections in the Affordable Care Act and millions more will do so as the act is implemented over the next few years. That these new and long overdue protections are now subject to a repeal attempt by some members of the new Congress is a travesty. A vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act is a vote to deny at least 16 million children, parents, and childless adults eligibility for Medicaid; threaten the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which now provides more than seven million children health coverage and is expected to double in size by 2015; and deny health coverage for the more than 1.2 million young adults now eligible for coverage through their parents’ health plans as they graduate from school and seek work up to age 26. A vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act would undermine opportunities for help for hundreds of thousands of children with disabilities and other special needs. It would permit insurance companies to unjustly deny health coverage again to children like Katie with pre-existing conditions and set annual limits and lifetime caps on their coverage. A vote to repeal new health care reforms threatens our children’s and taxpayers’ financial futures. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont) said in a press release, “the House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act would increase America’s deficit by $230 billion in just ten years. And then, it would increase the deficit by a cost equal to half a percent of our entire economy—more than one trillion dollars—in the ten years that follow. That’s a cost America’s children and grandchildren just can’t afford.”
Our nation must protect the long overdue and major gains for children and families in the Affordable Care Act. The law is already helping children and families and stopping some of the most egregious abuses of health insurers. Why would any sensible person want to go backwards and take these protections away?
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