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Amendment 63 and health care reform for children

The article was written in the Denver Post and the item that is most important is COVERAGE FOR MINORS. No Insurance carriers today will write kids on their own plan. Humana has even restricted any dependents under 19 from being added (even on parents plans!)

This month Colorado’s children will benefit greatly from the health care reform legislation. After Sept. 23, major provisions of health care reform take effect for all private health plans.

First, routine preventive services including a physical examination, immunizations, hearing and vision screening and developmental screening, must be covered without any co-payments or deductible payments for families.

Second, uninsured young adults will be able to remain on their parents’ health insurance dependent coverage up to age 26. Third, the patients’ Bill of Rights takes effect, which eliminates most annual and lifetime limits on insurance coverage, bans denying payments for care to children with pre-existing conditions, and prevents health plans from dropping coverage when a child or adult becomes ill.

Legal efforts and the Amendment 63 ballot initiative to exempt Colorado from these reforms would take away these benefits for Colorado’s children. If these attempts to roll back health care reform are successful, once again many privately insured Colorado families struggling to pay their mortgages or rent would not have the money to pay for their child’s preventive care and immunizations.

Once again thousands of Colorado young people under 26 would become uninsured because they will no longer be eligible to be included on their parents’ plan. Once again families who have a baby or child with a serious illness would not be able to get private health care coverage or will exceed their lifetime limit and face financial ruin and bankruptcy. Once again health plans would deny payments for a child’s breathing treatments and medications when asthma is considered a pre-existing condition.

In addition to the impact from these provisions, health care reform through the federal Affordable Care Act will also improve emergency services for children, especially in rural areas. It will expand the number of pediatricians and family physicians available to provide primary care to our children and help ensure that there will be a sufficient number of pediatric specialists to care for our children with complicated problems.

The federal Affordable Care Act reauthorizes the Colorado Child Health Plan and other state child health plans until 2019, expands Medicaid, and provides federal subsidies to both small businesses and working families for purchasing private health insurance.

Because of the passage of Colorado’s Affordable Care Act last year (with the support of our hospitals), we will have the state funding from the hospitals to pay for our state share of the Medicaid expansions and the Child Health Plan through 2017.

This means the federal Act will not cost the Colorado general fund a single extra dollar for at least the next 7 years. If we reject health care reform, Colorado will not receive needed federal funds. These funds are needed to subsidize family premiums and expand coverage in the Child Health Plan for tens of thousands of Colorado’s children, youth and adolescents.

The Affordable Care Act will restructure our health care system to be more efficient, have fewer medical errors, and make our children healthier. New research shows that the onset of many adult chronic conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and brain disorders actually become programmed in early childhood.

Since pediatric care affects how likely adults will later develop these conditions, we can reduce the likelihood and severity of these adult conditions by concentrating on making children healthier and preventing early obesity.

Health care reform provides resources to do this through increased research funding and innovative care programs. Children who are not healthy will have difficulty studying, learning, and performing in school. Both keeping our children healthy and having a world class education system must have a high priority. Our children must be able to compete in a global economy.

Those who support Amendment 63 seek to turn back the clock on health care reform and are ignoring the needs of Colorado’s children and families. Despite the rhetoric from opponents of health care reform, the passage of health care reform does not represent a government take- over of health care.

In fact, the role of private health plans will be expanded as they will have many more enrollees. Now is the time to work hard to implement health care reform in ways that will make our children healthier and reduce their risk of later adult chronic disease with its associated expenditures.

This is the best and most effective way to bend the health care cost curve and it will promote a globally competitive workforce in the future. Now is the time to think positively about caring for our children and take advantage of the opportunities provided by health care reform.

Stephen Berman, M.D., is a professor with the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado. He is also a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an online-only column and has not been edited.

Read more: Amendment 63 and health care reform for children – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/commented/ci_16144267?source=commented-#ixzz10O7wviLj

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