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CHaD Patient Family Visits Capitol Hill to Urge Congress to Safeguard Medicaid for Kids

CHaD Patient Family Visits Capitol Hill to Urge Congress to Safeguard Medicaid for Kids
Left photo: Jeanne Shaheen, senior United States Senator, left, with Parker Bolton, center and his mom, Casey. Right photo: Casey and Parker Bolton.

A New Hampshire family has taken their story to Capitol Hill to urge Congress to protect, not cut, children’s Medicaid funding as proposed in recently introduced federal bills, the American Health Care Act of 2017 and the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.

Eight-year-old Parker Bolton, a patient at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD), and his mom, Casey, of Pittsfield, NH, were in Washington as part of a broad national push to address key health care needs for children through the Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day, July 12-13, 2017, sponsored by the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA).

As scientific advances have made it possible for more kids to survive serious conditions, a growing number of children are relying on Medicaid to help meet their complex medical needs. Of the more than 30 million kids enrolled in Medicaid, at least 2 million have complex medical conditions like congenital heart disease, cerebral palsy and cancer. Parker Bolton was diagnosed in utero with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.  Parker has had three major open heart surgeries (two before he was able to come home from the hospital as an infant), 10 cardiac catheterizations and extensive oral surgery and will one day need a full heart transplant.  He is currently on Medicaid.  In 2012, “Parker’s Law” was signed into law in New Hampshire, requiring tests for all newborns for the event critical congenital heart defects. Parker and Casey met on Thursday with members of the New Hampshire and Vermont Congressional delegations to share how Medicaid coverage benefits his care and how the House and Senate health care bills could negatively affect their lives.

Parket Bolton meets US Rep. Anne Kuster

Eight-year-old Parker Bolton (right) meets with U.S. Rep. Anne McLane Kuster (D-NH2) during a visit on Thursday, July 13. Parker was one of several pediatric patients and families visiting Capitol Hill as part of Family Advocacy Day sponsored by the Children’s Hospital Association, urging Congress to protect, not cut, Medicaid.

“Our nation has finally reached a record high level of health care coverage for children – 95 percent. If the Senate agrees to turn Medicaid into a capped program, cutting children’s Medicaid funding by billions of dollars, then we will jeopardize children’s health care, their health outcomes and ultimately their futures,” said CHaD Physician-in-Chief Dr. Keith J. Loud.

“Protecting Medicaid for children and reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program for an additional 6 million children are top priorities for CHaD,” noted Loud. “Each year we see more and more children like Parker, who rely on Medicaid to access highly specialized care from multiple providers in different care settings.”

More than 40 percent of children rely on Medicaid, and so do the roughly 200 children's hospitals, like CHaD, that deliver highly specialized pediatric care 24/7. “Dramatic cuts to Medicaid as proposed in the House and Senate bills endanger the continued viability of our nation's children's hospitals,” said CHA President and CEO Mark Wietecha. “As a matter of public policy, we should not be attempting to fix our national budget problems by cutting children's health care.”