Medicaid matters to children: How Medicaid can help drive quality improvement in pediatrics

The nation's leading children's healthcare leaders gathered today to begin building a coalition to safeguard Medicaid and improve quality measurement standards. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, along with the National Association of Children's Hospitals, joined forces to create an alliance advocating for quality improvement measures to not only strengthen Medicaid but also to improve the state of pediatric practice.

"Medicaid has changed dramatically over the past 20 to 30 years," said Steven M. Altschuler, M.D., president and chief executive officer of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "The fear is that the government will run out of money, that Medicaid will go bankrupt. This is a crisis. Medicaid is a safety net for a large segment of our population and especially for children. Eighty percent of Medicaid recipients are children yet children represent only 20 percent of Medicaid utilization. As Medicaid funding is reduced, children bear the brunt of those cuts."

Recent federal budget cuts "give states the flexibility to cut benefits but not expand them," said Professor Sara Rosenbaum, J.D., from The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. Effectively, she added, with the federal government giving states more authority, Medicaid coverage is moving "toward a premium support model with limited benefits and substantial down streaming of financial risk."

Vice President of the Public Policy for the National Association of Children's Hospitals Peters Wilson said that the conference accomplished two goals: "The first goal was to persuade participants to advocate for quality and performance measurements for children's healthcare." The second goal is to figure out what resources children's advocates need at the state and federal level, "so that Medicaid becomes a major positive force" in children's healthcare, he concluded.

At the end of the conference, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia called for the commission of a task force comprised of national pediatric leaders to make recommendations towards strengthening children's healthcare, while improving Medicaid for the health and well-being of the future of the country.

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The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking second in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 430-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit www.chop.edu.


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