The Affordable Care Act attempts to reform children’s healthcare in several major ways. Most parents’ biggest concern is the health and well-being of their children. Proponents and even those oppose the ACA, would likely agree that all children should have access to quality healthcare. But when we look at how and where we find the funding, the arguments begin.
One purportedly hot-button reform issue is that the Affordable Care Act makes mandatory the current state option to extend Medicaid coverage up to age 26 for children who age out of the Foster Care System (currently age 18 is the age when they age out). That is of course, in theory, a great burden lifted for these children who have no parents and are now in some cases homeless, unemployed and without healthcare. Most proponents would say that this is a win-win. This may prevent unwanted pregnancies, may ensure more vaccinations and preventative care and possibly even more treatment for health related complications of addiction. But critics contest, where is the extra funding coming from—won’t an already overly drained economy crumble under this extra need? Further, the Affordable Care Act expands the network of health care pediatricians to nurse care practitioners, pediatric specialists and oral care specialists. Parents enrolled in new plans will be allowed to select their child’s pediatrician from among any participating provider. Critics claim that we will be employing more doctors in a sort of socialized medicine system. In order to compete, many will choose to participate. However, in this speculative hypothetical–if a pediatrician chooses to maintain his current patient roster of high paying patients opting out of participating, will he eventually lose business or even be shut down?
Again proponents will point to the bigger picture: provide good quality healthcare now, less burden on the system later. Exemplified in the recent changes to wellness benefits, the Affordable Care Act even provides wellness benefits for children. The reform goes as far as providing $25 million in new funding for the Childhood Obesity Demonstration Project, established through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) legislation. Also, parents will receive tax credits, exemptions from deductibles and other cost-sharing requirements for not only “traditional” healthcare but wellness care and added access to doctors. Proponents point to the fact that more than a third of children are obese and some are pre-Diabetic or indeed Diabetic because of obesity. Then, of course, supporters say, that there is an urgent need for wellness care.
The Affordable Care Act clearly has not been tested yet in terms of its efficacy. And in an ideal scenario, it could do wonders for the nation’s poorest children and previously forgotten many as well as the middle class. However, time will tell if financially we can sustain the newest additions and reform. What do you think? Will it be like putting a band-aid on a giant wound? Or might it be just the right amount of stitches to mend a broken system?