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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



By Mr. DeWINE (for himself and Mrs. LINCOLN):

S. 1563. A bill to amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to protect and strengthen the safety net of children's public health coverage by extending the enhanced Federal matching rate under the State children's health insurance program to children covered by Medicaid at State option and by encouraging innovations in children's enrollment and retention, to advance quality and performance in children's public health insurance programs, to provide payments for children's hospitals to reward quality and performance, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, today I join my friend and colleague from Arkansas, Senator LINCOLN, to introduce a bill called the Advancing Better Coverage and Care for Children's Health Act or the ABCs for Children's Health Act. It is an important piece of legislation designed to help improve the access and quality of children's health services around the country,'' including children's hospitals.

Children's Hospitals provide care to hundreds of thousands of children across our Nation every day. They care for the great majority of children who are seriously ill. They are the mainstay of the health care safety net for low-income children.

But, a child who lacks health insurance is still much less likely to have timely access to the medical care they need. That's not right. Two-thirds of the more than 9 million uninsured children in the United States are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP. They should be enrolled in public coverage when eligible, and we should streamline the eligibility process to make it easier, not more difficult.

President Bush said in 2004, ``America's children must also have a healthy start in life ..... we will lead an aggressive effort to enroll millions of poor children who are eligible but not signed up for the government's health insurance programs. We will not allow a lack of attention or information to stand between these children and the health care they need.'' The bill we are introducing today would do just that.

Our bill would provide the higher SCHIP federal match to states for children covered by Medicaid at the State option so that States think twice before removing children from the Medicaid rolls during State budget cuts. It also would provide a 90/10 administrative-match to help states update enrollment systems for children, including technology for ``express lane'' enrollment, the determination of eligibility for Medicaid and SCHIP when a child applies for another public benefit, like the school lunch program, and the allowance for enrollment by mail or phone.

We also need to do more to help strengthen the system of care to ensure quality and accountability for children's coverage. Our bill would do this by supporting innovative ideas at children's hospitals. Quality improvement funding shouldn't just be available to adult hospitals. Children's hospitals have good ideas, too, and we should support those good ideas.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio is leading the way in improving care for children with diabetes, cystic fibrosis and other chronic conditions. The hospital is deeply committed to transforming health care delivery to improve outcomes for children.

In 2001, they were selected as one of just seven hospitals in the Pursuing Perfection initiative launched by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and with this funding from the Foundation, they have made significant progress. They can document improvements in patient safety, in the effectiveness of care, in operational efficiency, in timely access to care, and in more patient-centered care. These are the reforms we need to pursue for children in Medicaid and for all children. Our bill would help Cincinnati Children's Hospital and our other Children's Hospitals speed their journey to better, safer, more cost-effective care.

A hospital that makes the effort to improve care and outcomes for children should be compensated for that effort. We need to advance quality and performance for children in Medicaid, like we are doing for seniors in Medicare. The development of hospital quality measures, testing their ability to gauge effective care and rewarding performance, should apply to all hospitals, including children's hospitals.

That's why we have worked with the National Association of Children's Hospitals to introduce a bill that would provide grants to help improve pediatric quality, so that Children's Hospitals can begin to establish measures for quality care and share what works--and what doesn't work--across hospital services for children nationwide.

Our bill would provide for a demonstration program in Medicaid to evaluate evidenced-based quality and performance measures in children's health services, with grants for States and/or providers in three areas: health information technology and evidenced-based outcome measures, disease management for children with chronic conditions, and evidenced-based approaches to improving the delivery of hospital care for children. The bill also would provide for a national Children's Hospital pay-for-performance demonstration program, rewarding Children's Hospitals, which provide critical access to services and voluntarily participate, for reporting and meeting quality and performance measures.

Evaluating the national measures of quality in Children's Hospitals, their success in capturing performance, and their applicability to pay-for-performance across States' varying methods of payments, would gives States, the Federal Government, and Children's Hospitals an essential base of information in measuring performance in children's hospital care. And that is something we vitally need.

I urge my colleagues to support and co-sponsor this bill.

I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

S. 1563

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