Republicans seeking to repeal Obamacare have a fight on their hands.
Rep. Bobby Scott joined Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Reps. Frank Pallone Jr., Richard Neal and John Yarmuth, Children’s Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman, National Association of School Nurses President Beth Mattey and parents and advocates this week to highlight how plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act will harm children.
The Democrats also noted that Medicaid is vital for the nation’s students and schools, providing reimbursement for many services provided at school-based health centers.
“Republicans are intent on both repealing the ACA, root and branch, and making drastic changes to Medicaid that would limit access to the health care and educational support services that are essential for the growth and development of children,” Scott said. “ACA repeal alone would leave over 4 million children without coverage, more than doubling the child uninsured rate,”
Scott said cuts to Medicaid, whether through per capita caps or block granting, threaten school-based services and will put the growth and education of children at risk.
“Republicans’ all-out war on affordable health care would have tragic consequences for millions of children across America,” Pelosi said. “The GOP’s ‘Make America Sick Again’ agenda would force families to choose between paying the bills and providing checkups for their children. Health care should be a right for all, not the privileged few. Democrats will continue to stand up for the health coverage of America’s children.”
Up to 17 million children have a preexisting condition and, through the ACA, children with preexisting conditions, such as asthma, cannot be denied coverage or be charged higher premiums.
Pelosi and others argued that school nurses are on the front lines of caring for children with preexisting conditions.
“The National Association of School Nurses wants students like David and Olivia to be in school, where they should be, in the classroom, learning, not in the hospital in pain or unable to pay attention in class,” Mattey said. “Our students are an investment in the future. It is imperative that funding for Medicaid continue without per capita caps or block grants and that CHIP be reauthorized. School nurses want children healthy, safe and ready to learn.”
For seven years, Republicans have said that they would repeal the Affordable Care Act, yet they still do not have a plan to replace the law, the Democrats argued.
Repealing the law without immediately replacing it would cause 4.4 million children across the country to lose their health coverage, and it would allow insurers to again discriminate against children with preexisting conditions, they said. Through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Medicaid reimburses schools for certain medically necessary services provided to Medicaid-eligible children with disabilities.
“Today, 1 in 3 children are covered by Medicaid or CHIP in this country,” Pallone said. “If Republicans repeal the ACA and cap or block grant the Medicaid program, millions of children could lose health coverage. This is shameful — no child should be left worse off because of the actions of Congress.”
The facts show that repealing the ACA and cutting Medicaid would be devastating to the health of children across our country, Neal added.
“We know that the ACA and Medicaid are wed, and more than 30 million children count on Medicaid to help make sure they can go to school healthy and ready to learn,” Neal said. “Why Republicans want to take away health insurance from millions of kids is beyond me. Here in Congress, Democrats will do everything in our power to stand up for our children and ensure they can continue to receive the health care and support they need.”
Through the ACA, essential child health preventive services, such as immunizations and screenings for autism, must be covered in health plans at no cost, a point emphasized by Edelman.
“A child is a child is a child,” Edelman said. “This country needs to come and live up to its creed that everybody is equal. And everyone is entitled to have a healthy and good start in life. So I think the main thing is just we are not going to go back. And we don’t want to touch that ACA unless there is a replacement that I hope is better in place. We are going to protect Medicaid, and CHIP, and the right of disabled children, and the poorest children to get the coverage they need. What we want for our own children is what we should want for other people’s children.”
Services available to students through Medicaid that are at risk are early and periodic screening, diagnostic and treatment, services for IEP or IFSP eligible students with disabilities, vision and hearing screenings and services, mental health counseling, diabetes and asthma diagnosis and management, speech therapy, and services mitigating the effects of lead.
Despite the proven need for these services, Republicans have proposed to cut Medicaid spending by 25 percent. This cut will severely affect children most in need, threaten school-based services, and cut off the funding that schools rely on to provide these services, Democrats said.