Your pediatrician most likely supports Obamacare—here’s why
Pediatricians are not generally known for being outspoken politically. For the most part, our work focuses on children locally and child wellness and safety globally more than on federal policy. According to the American Board of Pediatrics, the organization that oversees our testing and deems us “board certified,” there are over 100,000 board-certified pediatricians in the United States. When you have that many of any group of people, one would expect that their political leanings would be diverse and wide-ranging.
So, it is somewhat unprecedented that, as an organization (the American Academy of Pediatrics) and individually, pediatricians are nearly universally opposed to the new health bill moving through the U.S. Senate. En masse and one by one, pediatricians around the country are speaking out asking congress to #keepkidscovered. They are active on social media, on YouTube, at town halls, in their state governments and nationally, and their message is clear: the new healthcare bill is not good for our nation’s children.
Pediatricians’ biggest issue with the new bill is its deep cuts to Medicaid. Medicaid, which serves the nation’s poorest children, is a lifeline to many families. In fact, Medicaid is the single largest health insurance provider for children in the US. What many people do not realize is that the cost of providing Medicaid to a child is a fraction of the cost of providing Medicaid to an adult. For example, in the state of Florida the cost to take care of a child on Medicaid is less than half of what it costs to take care of an adult on the same insurance.
It is also important to understand that Medicaid, as well as the state’s individual Children’s Health Insurance plans, serve the working poor. The great majority of families using Medicaid have at least one working parent, often two.
Medicaid also serves the needs of children with chronic illnesses. These kids, who often include ex-preemies, children who have survived cancer, children who have survived congenital heart defects, and children who have survived life-threatening accidents, depend on continued Medicaid coverage throughout their childhood to keep them healthy and keep their parents out of bankruptcy as the cost of private insurance rises.
Medicaid allows children to have the routine exams and screenings that identify problems early on. It allows children and families to develop a relationship with a primary care doctor. We know that families who have access to consistent care are much more likely to utilize the emergency department only in the case of true emergencies because they have somewhere to turn when routine medical concerns arise. Proper utilization of the ED saves us all money.
The healthcare “debate” can really be boiled down to this: Do you believe healthcare is a right or a privilege? I believe healthcare is a right, particularly for our nation’s children. This right has a cost. One that can be responsibly managed if children have access to care that prevents illness and access to care that quickly and efficiently addresses chronic illnesses. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with me, and we are fighting to make sure access to quality healthcare for children is not decreased on our watch.