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Proposed bill would strengthen Medicaid for improved health care for children

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Spencer Pauley

(The Center Square) – U.S. Representative Kim Schrier (WA-08) is looking to strengthen Medicaid to boost health care access for children through a new House bill.

The Kids’ Access to Primary Care Act seeks to ensure Medicaid pays at least the same rate as Medicare. Currently, Medicaid payment rates are at a lower rate than Medicare for the same primary care procedures and service, according to Schrier.

The reimbursement rate for Medicaid is set at about $274 a day in Washington state, according to the non-profit organization Investigate West.

In Washington state, 2.1 million people are insured through Medicaid, according to the most recent statistics from the Medicaid website. Child enrollment for the insurance program was approximately 903,000 in October, 2022.

“The current Medicaid payment rate has led to fewer available doctors, longer waiting periods and overall reduced health care coverage for families across the country,” Schrier said in a statement. “Almost half of the children in the United States are insured through Medicaid, so the best way to take care of our kids is to strengthen Medicaid.”

American Academy of Pediatrics President Sandy Chung said that access to health care for more than half of all U.S. children suffers if Medicaid’s payment rates are not corrected.

“We witnessed this failure this past fall, when the surge in pediatric respiratory illnesses, combined with the ongoing youth mental health crisis and the immense strain placed on hospitals and pediatric practices, led to major challenges for families seeking care,” Chung added. “The Kids’ Access to Primary Care Act includes needed, practical solutions to fix this, such as aligning Medicaid payment rates with Medicare for primary care services, including for pediatric subspecialties.

Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) co-sponsored the bill. It was introduced to the House on Feb. 9 and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.