Advocates for people with disabilities and special health needs are out in force as President Obama and lawmakers weigh deep cuts to Medicaid as part of debt ceiling talks.
Georgetown's Health Policy Institute released a report Thursday that concludes that almost eight in 10 children with autism, cancer and other special healthcare needs who are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program - about 2.9 million children - rely on those programs as their primary source of coverage. For many others, the government programs fill the gaps for services not covered by private insurance or help with cost-sharing.
"Children have the most to lose in the budget debate if Medicaid takes the brunt of the budget cuts because they make up a disproportionate share of Medicaid beneficiaries," the paper concludes. "Children and youth with special health care have more at stake in the deficit debate than any others."
The most recent data indicate that of the 74 million children in the United States, approximately 14 percent (10.2 million children) meet the criteria of having a special health care need. Thirty-six percent or 3.6 million of these children rely on Medicaid or CHIP for all or part of their health care coverage. In most instances, Medicaid is the sole source of coverage for these children, but it also often plays the role of serving as a “backup” or “supplemental” source of coverage for those with private insurance. Notably, the majority of CYSHCN have private insurance, but 33 percent of their families report their child’s coverage is inadequate in meeting their needs.6 For these families, Medicaid can help fill coverage gaps and make the private coverage more affordable.