One Pickerington family is bringing their story of heartache and hope to Washington D.C. this month to help Congress understand the importance of protecting pediatric care in face of growing budget concerns. Brandon Woods, 8, and his family are among those traveling to the nation’s capital to bring attention to potential new barriers to pediatric health care as part of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals (N.A.C.H.) Family Advocacy Day held July 25-26, 2011.
The Woods family learned the value of access to quality pediatric care through firsthand experience when their son, Brandon was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy at just 5 months of age. His enlarged heart condition was managed with medication and checkups but at the age of 5, a heart transplant was necessary for Brandon to survive. Thanks to the access to the team of specialists at The Heart Center at Nationwide Children's and Medicaid coverage, which together with private health insurance enabled his family to pay for Brandon’s care, Brandon is enjoying the life of a fun-loving 8-year-old who loves reading, being outdoors and playing with his friends.
“Receiving care from the experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital saved my child’s life,” said Brandon’s mom, LaShawnda Woods. “No one knows when their child might be faced with extraordinary health care needs like Brandon. We are going to Washington D.C. in the hope that sharing our story will help policymakers recognize the need to protect quality health care for all kids. And we want to thank those who have been champions for children’s hospitals.”
Although decades of advocacy have yielded strides that have improved children’s access to coverage, the infrastructure that ensures access to care has sustained serious blows in 2011. The Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2012 budget called on Congress to eliminate funding for the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Program (CHGME), a federal program that helps children’s hospitals train 40 percent of all pediatricians and 43 percent of pediatric specialists.
In addition, proposals to slash funding for Medicaid, the largest health care program for children in the country, have gained traction. Congress is discussing proposals to cut the program’s funding by up to $1 trillion over the next decade and impose a cap on the amount the federal government can contribute.
“Today half of children cared for at children’s hospitals are insured through Medicaid,” said Steve Allen, MD, CEO of Nationwide Children's. “There are thoughtful ways to balance the budget that are not at the expense of young children whose care is relatively inexpensive and a great investment in controlling future health care costs.”
Survey data show that few people fully understand the extent to which Medicaid is a children’s program. Medicaid is most often associated with nursing home care or care for the disabled. However, data from children’s hospitals show that half of all child patients in children’s hospitals are covered under Medicaid and, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, one in three children overall is covered by Medicaid.
Brandon is joining nearly 30 other children in championing access to pediatric care. The event includes Congressional visits, a tour of Washington D.C. and a celebratory dinner to honor the child patients known as Family Advocacy Day “All Stars.” Brandon meetings include U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, his family’s own representative, Congressman Steve Austria, Congressman Jim Jordan, Congressman Steve Stivers, and Congressman Pat Tiberi.
About the National Association of Children’s Hospitals
The National Association of Children’s Hospitals – N.A.C.H. – is the public policy affiliate of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI). N.A.C.H. is a trade organization of 140 children’s hospitals and supports children’s hospitals in addressing public policy issues that affect their ability to fulfill their missions to serve children and their families. N.A.C.H. fulfills its mission and vision through federal advocacy, collaboration and communication designed to strengthen the ability of children’s hospitals and health systems to influence public policy makers, understand federal and state policy issues, advance access and quality of health care for all children, and sustain financially their missions of clinical care, education, research and advocacy.
For more information about Family Advocacy Day, visit www.childrenshospitals.net or follow us on Facebook (search National Association of Children’s Hospitals) or Twitter, @speaknowforkids, #FAD11.