Democrats Highlight Impact of Reckless ACA Repeal on Our Nation’s Children

WASHINGTON – Today, Ranking Member Bobby Scott was joined by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., Ranking Member Richard Neal, Ranking Member John Yarmuth, Children’s Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman, President of the National Association of School Nurses Beth Mattey, parents and advocates for a press conference to highlight how Republican plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will harm children.

Medicaid is vital for our nation’s students and schools, providing reimbursement for many services provided at school-based health centers.

“Republicans are intent on both repealing the ACA, root and branch, and making drastic changes to Medicaid that would limit access to the health care and educational support services that are essential for the growth and development of children,” said Ranking Member Scott. “ACA repeal alone would leave over 4 million children without coverage, more than doubling the child uninsured rate.  Cuts to Medicaid, whether through per capita caps or block granting, threaten school-based services and will put the growth and education of children at risk.”

“Republicans’ all-out war on affordable health care would have tragic consequences for millions of children across America," said Democratic Leader Pelosi.  "The GOP's Make America Sick Again agenda would force families to choose between paying the bills and providing checkups for their children.  Health care should be a right for all, not the privileged few.  Democrats will continue to stand up for the health coverage of America's children."

Up to 17 million children have a pre-existing condition.  Through the ACA, children with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, cannot be denied coverage or be charged higher premiums. School nurses are on the front lines of caring for children with pre-existing conditions.

“The National Association of School Nurses wants students like David and Olivia to be in school, where they should be, in the classroom, learning, not in the hospital in pain or unable to pay attention in class,” said Beth Mattey, President, National Association of School Nurses. “Our students are an investment in the future. It is imperative that funding for Medicaid continue without per capita caps or block grants and that CHIP be reauthorized. School nurses want children healthy, safe and ready to learn.” 

“I was proud to join Ranking Member Scott, House Democrats, nurses, parents, and other advocates for our nation’s children to voice our strong opposition to Republican efforts to Make America Sick Again,” said Whip Hoyer. “For seven years, Republicans have said that they would repeal the Affordable Care Act, yet they still do not have a plan to replace the law. Repealing the law without immediately replacing it would cause 4.4 million children across the country to lose their health coverage, and it would allow insurers to again discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions. Democrats will not stand idly by as Republicans dismantle the law, kicking children off of health coverage and increasing costs for millions of families.”

Through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Medicaid reimburses schools for certain medically necessary services provided to Medicaid-eligible children with disabilities.

“Today, 1 in 3 children are covered by Medicaid or CHIP in this country,” said ranking member Pallone. “If Republicans repeal the ACA and cap or block grant the Medicaid program, millions of children could lose health coverage. This is shameful—no child should be left worse off because of the actions of Congress.”

“The facts show us that repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting Medicaid would be devastating to the health of children across our country,” said ranking member Neal. “We know that the ACA and Medicaid are wed, and more than 30 million children count on Medicaid to help make sure they can go to school healthy and ready to learn. Why Republicans want to take away health insurance from millions of kids is beyond me. Here in Congress, Democrats will do everything in our power to stand up for our children and ensure they can continue to receive the health care and support they need.”

“Congressional Republicans’ partisan insistence on repealing the Affordable Care Act—which would put the health coverage of 63,000 Kentucky children at risk—is unfortunately just one of many ways the GOP and the Trump administration is threatening the health and economic security of American families,” said ranking member Yarmuth.  “While Republican leadership considers ways to roll back our progress of the past eight years in order to offer massive tax cuts for the rich, remove financial protections for consumers, and gut the Medicaid program for the most vulnerable, Democrats will fight to protect the priorities of working families all across the country.”

The ACA also strengthened benefits and protections for children which contribute to better health outcomes. Through the law, essential child health preventive services, such as immunizations and screenings for autism, must be covered in health plans at no cost. Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund, emphasized this point.

“Once the ACA was fully implemented and health plans were available to be purchased, it gave me great peace of mind to know that if anything ever happened to one of our jobs again, we now had a safety net,” stated Amy Krohn, a member of MomsRising, and a mother. “That Addie would always have a coverage plan to fall back on, that she would never be denied insurance because of her Type 1 diabetes, was an amazing sigh of relief for our family.”

“I cannot bare the lottery of geography. A child in Massachusetts can have it, but a child in Mississippi cannot. A child is a child, is a child,” said Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President, Children’s Defense Fund. “This country needs to come and live up to its creed that everybody is equal. And everyone is entitled to have a healthy and good start in life. So I think the main thing is just we are not going to go back. And we don’t want to touch that ACA unless there is a replacement that I hope is better in place. We are going to protect Medicaid, and CHIP, and the right of disabled children, and the poorest children to get the coverage they need.  What we want for our own children is what we should want for other people’s children.”

Services available to students through Medicaid that are at risk are early and periodic screening, diagnostic and treatment, services for IEP or IFSP eligible students with disabilities, vision and hearing screenings and services, mental health counseling, diabetes and asthma diagnosis and management, speech therapy, and services mitigating the effects of lead.

Despite the proven need for these services, Republicans have proposed to cut Medicaid spending by 25 percent. This cut will severely impact children most in need, threaten school-based services, and cut off the funding that schools rely on to provide these services.

FACT SHEET: Medicaid in Schools

FACT SHEET: Children’s Health at Risk

Press Contact

Arika Trim (Scott), 202-226-0853
Mariel Saez (Hoyer), 202-225-3130
Caroline Behringer (Pelosi), 202-226-7616
CJ Young (Pallone), 202-225-5735
Kevin Parker (Neal), 202-225-2856