After passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more children and young adults have become insured and have benefited from health care coverage than at any time since the creation of the Medicaid program in 1965. From 2009 to 2015, the uninsurance rate for children younger than 19 years fell from 9.7% to 5.3%, whereas the uninsurance rate for young adults 19 to 25 years of age declined from 31.7% to 14.5%. Nonetheless, much work remains to be done. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes that the United States can and should ensure that all children, adolescents, and young adults from birth through the age of 26 years who reside within its borders have affordable access to high-quality and comprehensive health care, regardless of their or their families' incomes. Public and private health insurance should safeguard existing benefits for children and take further steps to cover the full array of essential health care services recommended by the AAP. Each family should be able to afford the premiums, deductibles, and other cost-sharing provisions of the plan. Health plans providing these benefits should ensure, insofar as possible, that families have a choice of professionals and facilities with expertise in the care of children within a reasonable distance of their residence. Traditional and innovative payment methodologies by public and private payers should be structured to guarantee the economic viability of the pediatric medical home and of other pediatric specialty and subspecialty practices to address developing shortages in the pediatric specialty and subspecialty workforce, to promote the use of health information technology, to improve population health and the experience of care, and to encourage the delivery of evidence-based and quality health care in the medical home, as well as in other outpatient, inpatient, and home settings. All current and future health care insurance plans should incorporate the principles for child health financing outlined in this statement. Espousing the core principle to do no harm, the AAP believes that the United States must not sacrifice any of the hard-won gains for our children. Medicaid, as the largest single payer of health care for children and young adults, should remain true to its origins as an entitlement program; in other words, future fiscal or regulatory reforms of Medicaid should not reduce the eligibility and scope of benefits for children and young adults below current levels nor jeopardize children's access to care. Proposed Medicaid funding "reforms" (eg, institution of block grant, capped allotment, or per-capita capitation payments to states) will achieve their goal of securing cost savings but will inevitably compel states to reduce enrollee eligibility, trim existing benefits (such as Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment), and/or compromise children's access to necessary and timely care through cuts in payments to providers and delivery systems. In fact, the AAP advocates for increased Medicaid funding to improve access to essential care for existing enrollees, fund care for eligible but uninsured children once they enroll, and accommodate enrollment growth that will occur in states that choose to expand Medicaid eligibility. The AAP also calls for Congress to extend funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, a plan vital to the 8.9 million children it covered in fiscal year 2016, for a minimum of 5 years.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health