VALHALLA, NY, October 30, 2021 / PRNewswire / – The following is a statement from the CEO of Blythedale Children’s Hospital:
Congress discusses the proposal $ 3.5 trillion social infrastructure legislation amid burning political divisions. Emphasis was placed on the total cost and the choice of initiatives to remove or reduce. But there is one area that can unite us all: the red and blue states, the conservatives, the moderates and the progressives: children.‘s health and well-being. Money spent on children is not just an expense, it is an investment in strengthening our country that will pay future dividends for all of us.
As children‘As CEO of the hospital, I watch children of all racial and economic backgrounds, and families of all political affiliations, walk through our doors. In the blink of an eye, their lives were turned upside down, often with a devastating diagnosis. Our whole nation‘s schisms disappear when they enter; politics suddenly and completely becomes irrelevant. Every child is simply a patient in need of care, and our mission is to provide the best possible care.
Thanks to extensive research on the social determinants of health, we also know that it is essential for children‘ physical health and cognitive development to meet a child‘s basic needs: food, clothing, shelter, regular and prompt medical care and early childhood education. An ounce of prevention is well worth a pound of cure.
After 45 years in children‘In the hospital sector, I consider it my responsibility to defend what I have learned is vital for the health and quality of life of children. I call on Congress to adopt the following program for families working under Build Back Better:
Halve child poverty by making the child tax credit permanent. In a ranking of 26 OECD countries, the United States has the highest child poverty rate. The means-tested child tax credit would provide $ 3,000 for eligible children aged 6 to 17 and $ 3,600 for children under six.
Increase funding for nutritious school breakfasts and lunches in low-income communities, as well as for SNAP, the nation‘food stamp program. One in seven children (10.7 million children) goes hungry every day.
Provide a universal pre-K, using a sliding scale of eligibility. Investing in early childhood education produces cognitive gains for low-income and middle-class children, with long-term income returns of up to $ 8 for every dollar spent.
Reduce the high costs of child care for low and middle income families, for which it takes a large chunk of already stretched budgets to cover food, shelter, clothing and health care. Too often, this forces a family member to quit their job to care for a child, limiting household income and lowering our tax base.
Make children‘s Funding of the permanent Health Insurance Program (CHIP), like other insurance assistance plans. CHIP covers nine million children whose families earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance. Permanent coverage would remove CHIP from partisan budget battles and end concerns about disruption for these children‘health care.
Increase funding for home and community pediatric services for children with disabilities and special medical needs. Medical advances have enabled the survival of millions of children, most of whom can be cared for at home, avoiding the pain of separation and the high cost of government-funded institutional care. Investments in the nursing homes program, in particular, would help lower and middle class families with medically fragile children obtain essential interventions and resources and navigate the complex web of health, education and social services. Ultimately, they reduce government spending by fixing problems as they arise, thus avoiding higher costs down the road.
Make Medicaid grants available to residents of the 12 states who are currently forgoing Medicaid expansion. Children represent 40% of Medicaid registrants; thousands upon thousands of children in these states are still uninsured and lack access to regular health care.
Invest in pediatric behavioral health by expanding community services and increasing the number of pediatric mental health professionals.
I already hear the reviews that “We don’t have the money to pay for it, âexcept that we do. What was lacking was the political will to readjust priorities. Recognize that our budget is not just a financial document, it is also our most fundamental statement of values ââas a society. And how to pay for improvements in children‘s health and well-being? To begin with, redirect the billions spent each year into Afghanistan; recover hundreds of billions of dollars in savings by allowing the federal government to negotiate the cost of pharmaceuticals; and review the fairness of our tax policies.
Congress, as you negotiate Build Back Better, put children and families at the top of your agenda. Protecting them ensures a better present and future for our nation. And, because it benefits both the Red State and Blue State families, it is even good politics too.
Larry Levine is the President and CEO of Blythedale Children‘s Hospital new York, a position he has held for 20 years. Mr. Levine’s opinions are based on his 45 years of working with children‘s hospital field, talk to parents about their families and children‘s needs.
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Blythedale Children’s Hospital