05.26.17

THOUSANDS OF WESTCHESTER AND ROCKLAND CHILDREN WILL BE STRIPPED OF CRITICAL HEALTH INSURANCE WITH HOUSE OF REPS’ HEALTH CARE BILL AND TRUMP BUDGET PROPOSAL; WESTCHESTER AND ROCKLAND CHILDREN WILL BE SOME OF THE HARDEST HIT BY THE PROPOSED CUTS TO CHILD HEALTH PLUS AND MEDICAID; SENATOR PLEDGES TO FIGHT FOR CHILDREN ACROSS NEW YORK TO MAINTAIN CRITICAL CARE FOR THE CHILDREN WHO NEED IT MOST

Surrounded by Children at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, Schumer Pledged To Fight For The 74% of Children In The Hospital that Rely On Medicaid for Critical Care 

Westchester And Rockland County Families with Children Who Depend on the Children's Health Insurance Program Are Terrified By the Thought Of Their Child Losing Care; Westchester County Has the 6th Highest CHIP Enrollment in the State 

Schumer: Westchester Children Cannot Afford To Lose The Care That They Deserve

Surrounded by local families and children at Blythedale Children’s Hospital, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, today announced a major initiative to protect thousands of children in Westchester and Rockland Counties. Schumer’s visit symbolized the nationwide effort to bring to light critical programs that were gutted in the House of Representatives’ health care plan and the recently released Trump Administration’s budget. The Trump Administration’s proposed budget, would eviscerate funding for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  Schumer said, the Administration’s budget would hurt more 26 thousand children in Westchester and Rockland Counties and that he will fight cuts to Medicaid proposed in Congress. Schumer also said that 1 in 3 children are covered by a combination of Medicaid and CHIP and that the proposed over $1 trillion dollar cut in the House of Representatives’ health care bill and the President’s budget would mean that thousands of Hudson Valley children would lose access to affordable health care that working families rely on.

"Medicaid and programs that provide healthcare to kids need to be strengthened not cut. When it comes to something as important as health care, we cannot allow a situation to arise in which children cannot get the checkup or prescription they need because their family cannot afford the payments or insurance,” said Senator Schumer.  “Since 2008 we have seen the number of uninsured children cut in half. It is because of Medicaid and CHIP that children can get the medical services they so desperately need. These cruel and draconian cuts represent a broken promise to middle-class families and those struggling to get there. I will fight tooth and nail against this counterproductive budget from and the far right’s health care bill because no family should ever have to make the agonizing decision between taking their child to the doctor and footing the cost of exorbitant medical bills they cannot afford.”

Medicaid works to help middle class families get the health care they need. Nationally, half of Medicaid recipients are children and in New York 38% of all Medicaid and CHIP enrollees are children. Here are some additional important numbers: 51% of all newborns, 47% of all infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and 39% of children with disabilities or special needs in New York depend on Medicaid or CHIP for their health care.  For Blythedale hospital more than 74% of patients are covered by Medicaid.  Yet despite the program’s proven track record to provide the “gold standard” of care Republicans are trying to pass an $800 billion dollar cut to Medicaid which would hurt children across the country and negatively affect Hudson Valley families. Schumer said proposed cuts in President Trump’s budget are even worse than the ones proposed by the House of Representatives’ health care bill but combined they would total to more than a trillion dollars in cuts to this life saving program.  If the House of Representatives’ health care bill or Trump budget cuts become a reality, New York will be forced to make difficult decisions about which benefits they can keep providing. States will be forced to reduce payments to providers, including pediatric specialists, and limit access to life-saving, though costly, specialty care which would hurt thousands of middle class families in the Hudson Valley.

Schumer continued: “The combination of cuts to healthcare for our kids in the new Trump budget and the House's bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act are cruel and counterproductive. ‎It is a nasty one-two punch that hurts the most vulnerable among us -- our kids -- and I will fight with any and all colleagues in the Senate to beat them back. The effort weaken, wound and destroy our health care programs including Medicaid and CHIP will only make us sicker and poorer, while delivering an unneeded tax cut the very wealthiest among us. It is bad policy. This is one giant broken promise. These programs -- CHIP and Medicaid -- are enormously popular with middle-class families here in the Hudson Valley and across the state because they work, delivering affordable and vital healthcare to our children -- and to our seniors, especially in nursing homes.

The evidence is overwhelming that Medicaid is working and must be protected: children receiving Medicaid benefits are more likely to perform better in school, miss fewer days of school, and pursue higher education. According to data from the New York State Department of Health in May 2017, Westchester County had 100,688 people enrolled in Medicaid and Rockland County had 53,177 enrolled; half of Medicaid enrollees are children.  Many middle class families whose children receive Medicaid-covered health use it not only at the doctor’s office, but also at school. For students with disabilities, schools must provide medical services that are necessary for them to get an education as part of their special education plans, and Medicaid pays for these services for eligible children. Under Medicaid, children with disabilities are able to receive home and community-based services, which allow them to get care in the comfort of their homes without the complications involved in traveling to see a health care provider.

For those children who need to travel, Medicaid provides transportation services to and from providers, ensuring that distance is not a barrier to care for a vulnerable child. Medicaid requires states to offer services to children in state foster care systems as well as children living with developmental disabilities.

Schumer explained that in addition to the numerous children receiving Medicaid benefits, many Hudson Valley working families rely on CHIP to provide health care for their children. Specifically, the CHIP program provides coverage for families whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid; a family of four, for example, making under $95,400 per year, but above the poverty level, qualifies for CHIP. Rockland and Westchester County have some of the highest CHIP enrollee rates in the country in Westchester there are 13,200 kids enrolled in CHIP and Rockland has 10,419 kids currently enrolled.  Trump’s current budget makes nearly $6 billion in cuts over 10 years to CHIP meaning that many children will lose their health insurance.

It is a federal funding stream, Schumer said, that provides states with the money needed to support their individual state programs and saves hard-working families across New York State hundreds of dollars a year on doctors’ visits and prescriptions.  The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a federal-state partnership that allows middle class families to access affordable health care coverage for their children. New York State’s CHIP-funded program, Child Health Plus, is able to deliver a critical low-cost health care option for hundreds of thousands of moderate-income and low income children and pregnant women across the state every year because of these federal funds. CHIP helps cover more than 9 million children and pregnant women.

New Yorkers eligible for this program can sign up for Child Health Plus through New York State and then receive these vital health services through a private insurance provider’s plan. In 2015, the federal CHIP program contributed 65 percent of the funding needed to support New York State’s Child Health Plus program, which is approximately $34.5 million per month. New York State’s contribution to the Child Health Plus program was approximately $18.6 million per month, or the remaining 35 percent. Schumer said that, because Child Health Plus received such a significant portion of its funding—roughly $414 million—from the federal CHIP program, the families of the hundreds of thousands children across New York State and close to 26 thousand in Westchester and Rockland Counties who rely on these CHIP funds could be forced to pay skyrocketing premiums if President Trump’s budget or the House of Representatives’ healthcare bill becomes a reality. 

Under the current program, CHIP provides comprehensive coverage, including routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, laboratory and X-ray services, and emergency services. While the health premium costs are different in each state, under the CHIP guidelines, no enrollee is required to pay more than 5 percent of their family's income for the year. New York State's Child Health Plus program allows children 6 to 18 years of age who fall between 150-400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to pay a monthly fee lower than $9 per child.

In 2015, Schumer led the charge to extend CHIP funding, known as Child Health Plus in New York, and saved New York State from losing an estimated $414 million in federal funds. He has also pushed for the program to be extended this year by Congress Schumer is committed to protecting this critical program.

Schumer will be joined by President and CEO of Blythedale Children’s Hospital Larry Levine.

“We profoundly oppose the deep cuts to  Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) contained within the President’s budget and recently house-passed AHCA legislation,” said Blythedale Children’s Hospital President & CEO Larry Levine. “These two programs cover nearly half of the children in New York State. At Blythedale Children’s Hospital, 73% of the patients we treat are covered by Medicaid and CHIP. Who are the kids covered by Medicaid? Many are from working families who have lower incomes. Many have two jobs just to make ends meet. Others are from middle-class families who have a child with a serious medical problem and private health insurance has run out. In many cases, Medicaid becomes their lifeline. No matter what your view on the role and size of government, I hope we can all agree that preserving the health and vitality of children is a non-negotiable societal goal. As a nation we are better than this. We need a rational and humane healthcare policy that not only protects children's health, but also ensures that families don't go into financial ruin if their child has a devastating accident or illness." 

As New York’s only freestanding, specialty children’s hospital, Blythedale is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of children with medical complexity, not only through superb multi-disciplinary patient care, but also through teaching, research, and advocacy programs. Blythedale’s board-certified physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff (social workers, respiratory therapists, clinical pharmacists, Child Life specialists, etc.) and New York State’s largest hospital-based pediatric therapy department work together to provide intensive and innovative multi-disciplinary clinical and therapeutic care to help children achieve their medical and rehabilitative goals for independent living, and return to their communities. Blythedale is also the only Hospital in New York State with its own, on-site public school district. For more information about Blythedale Children’s Hospital, visit www.blythedale.org.

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