This week, the Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act of 2019 (ACE Kids Act) reached a critical milestone, it was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives as part of H.R. 1839. The bill will improve care for the sickest children in the nation—it has bipartisan support in the House and Senate and the backing of more than 30 national health care organizations. But even with this broad support, it will take strong advocacy from children's hospitals and other allied groups to get it over the finish line.
How it will help kids
The ACE Kids Act supports better care coordination for children with medically complex conditions who rely on Medicaid. These children require serious and ongoing care—they often see six or more specialists and more than a dozen physicians. Just coordinating all those doctor visits can become a full-time job for parents. This bill will help reduce that burden on families by allowing states to create special health homes to coordinate children's care.
Sometimes, that care coordination even needs to extend beyond state lines. Children with very unique needs require highly specialized providers, and those providers aren't always in the same state as the children who rely on them. The ACE Kids Act is designed to make it easier for families to cross state lines for care, which can sometimes be a challenge today within the Medicaid program.
While long trips to see their doctor can be necessary, it's best when children see the provider they need as near home as possible. The ACE Kids Act supports care closest to children’s homes and communities and aims to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations.
But the ACE Kids Act will do more than coordinate care, it will help make care for these children better overall in the future. Today, there is no national definition of what makes a child "medically complex," so it's hard to aggregate data and gain insight into issues they face; at a national level, it’s hard to see how to help them through improvements in coordination, quality of care and more. The ACE Kids Act will fix this challenge.
What you can do
Already approved by the House, H.R. 1839 will now advance to the Senate for consideration. You can help today by telling your senators how important this bill is to children and asking them to pass the ACE Kids Act.
This article originally appeared on Children's Hospitals Today.