Jessie Whitish

Statement by Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates

The health of Kentucky’s kids became as risky as a bet on the Derby with the passage of the American Health Care Act by the House today.

There are positives that merit note to be sure. As an example, we appreciate the House’s commitment to continue coverage for young adults until the age of 26. That is especially crucial for youth aging out of foster care. And the House’s continued commitment to pre-existing conditions is a vital support for parents who may be at risk. However, we have strong concerns that coverage may be priced out of reach for those who suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.

Yet kids are put at risk by the House’s action today. When you fail to guarantee essential services and rollback Medicaid, you fail to guarantee health. That means best practices like preventive measures including vision screening and well-child checks; pediatric oral health care coverage; behavioral health treatment; threats to maternity care, which is the first step in children’s healthcare become long-shot ideas for kids. These are the common sense elements of a good health care system and we cannot afford to make them “iffy propositions.”

There are two potential silver linings in this legislation. First, we are counting on Kentucky’s own Mitch McConnell to apply his well-established voice for kids to fill those gaps. Secondly, this legislation – and realistically whatever becomes the end product – will give states unprecedented flexibility in the healthcare arena. That means Governor Bevin can deliver for Kentucky’s kids by building a focused and astute best practice model for the Commonwealth’s children.

Kentucky’s kids are betting on the Majority Leader and Governor to run the healthcare race on their behalf.