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Congress Threatens Medical Care for Kids with Plan to Repeal Health Care Law

Changes to the Affordable Care Act making their way through Congress would deny access to health care to millions of children and their parents who are insured today.

Maybe you've heard the expression: A parent is only as happy as their most unhappy child. It's not easy to raise kids, and their well-being is every parent's No. 1 concern. Keeping our kids healthy, of course, is a major priority. And having affordable and comprehensive health insurance -- the kind that covers six-month checkups as well as broken arms -- is key to helping our kids thrive and giving parents peace of mind.

America has grappled with the best way to insure the greatest number of people for more than a century. And in recent years, we have made great strides -- they're not perfect, but they are significant improvements. Unfortunately, Congress is fast at work to change America's health insurance law in a way that jeopardizes the health and well-being of millions of kids. It doesn't have to happen this way.

Thanks to current law, including the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program, 95 percent of young children in the U.S. today are covered. That's a remarkable achievement. Millions of low-income children and their parents have benefitted from changes over the last few years. With health insurance, parents are more likely to seek medical care for themselves and for their children, helping to prevent illnesses from developing and shortening their duration when they occur.

But as you have probably seen, Congress and the Trump Administration are pursuing changes that would cause 24 million Americans to lose their coverage, including millions of children. This should alarm any parent who understands the importance of health insurance for their children.

The Affordable Care Act needs to be changed; there is no question about that. It was a massive undertaking and made great progress. Gridlock in Washington, however, has prevented any improvements to the Affordable Care Act from being considered. If Congress had the goal of making sure that all families and businesses have access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance, it could improve the law for everyone without forcing millions of kids and their parents to lose access to critical medical care. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a priority.

Here are some key facts about children and health insurance to keep in mind as the political battle proceeds in Washington, D.C., thanks to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

  • Ninety-five percent of children age 0–5 are insured today.
  • Forty-five million of those children access health care through two programs: about 37 million through Medicaid (a federal-state program) and 8 million through CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • Children are the single-largest group of persons covered under Medicaid.
  • Under the Affordable Care Act, many states expanded Medicaid with help from the federal government, increasing coverage for kids and families, including coverage for mental health care.
  • Changes being considered in Congress would cut funding to Medicaid by $880 billion over the next 10 years.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office just concluded that Congress' planned changes would cause 24 million Americans to lose health insurance by the year 2026.

Stay tuned to this blog for important updates about how the fight over the health insurance law will affect America's kids. And if you haven't already, sign up to be a Kids Action Advocate today to help us speak up for all kids.

Danny Weiss

Danny Weiss is Chief Advocacy Officer at Common Sense. In this role, he oversees all advocacy and public policy operations. He brings nearly three decades of service on Capitol Hill, most recently as chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Danny first joined Common Sense in 2015 and returned again in 2020, and has led efforts to close the digital divide, protect children's online data privacy, hold tech companies accountable for online harms to kids and teens, and expand access to programs that lift children out of poverty, like the expanded Child Tax Credit. In his spare time, he likes cook dinner and play percussion.