This session, state legislators maintained access to Apple Health for Kids for all children in Washington State. Every day, hundreds of thousands of Washington children can get dental, mental, and preventive health care. Apple Health for Kids ensures that more of Washington’s kids than ever before have the chance to grow and thrive here.
That success is again under attack, this time from the federal government.
H.R. 1683 would destabilize health care coverage of the children, seniors and adults with disabilities enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It would do so by eliminating stability protections, often called Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements that are ensuring stable, continuous health coverage of people of all ages. The bill, co-sponsored by Washington’s 5th District Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, has passed the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health along party lines and is on its way to the full committee, and eventually to the House floor.
Children need health care coverage to get a good start in life, and they make up roughly two-thirds of those who would be harmed by H.R. 1683. The bill also harms seniors who are unable to care for themselves in their own homes and people with disabilities.
If these MOE provisions are eliminated, our state could face tough choices that would be destructive to Apple Health for Kids. Choices such as:
• Cutting specialized pediatric benefits that provide regular screenings and ensure sound preventive care;
• Dropping coverage for some children and pregnant women, seniors and people with disabilities;
• Cutting back further on provider payments;
• Creating waiting lists by capping enrollment;
• Increasing premiums and co-pays beyond the ability of struggling low-income families;
• Eliminating programs middle-income families rely on, such as CHIP.
As the map below shows, at least 15 million kids in our nation are at risk of losing health coverage. MOE protections have helped these children weather this recession by preventing sabotage of successful state health programs during this historic economic downturn. However the sponsors try to describe these measures, their actual effect is to get our nation to turn its back on what we know works for kids.