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Back to School: Remind Parents & Caregivers to Call Their Pediatricians

August is Back to School Month. Calling the pediatrician should be at the top of the to-do list for parents and caregivers so that children can see their doctors for routine well-child visits before school starts.

We collaborated with the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (PA-AAP) and the Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition on our latest fact sheet, Pediatric Visits and Childhood Immunizations: Getting PA Kids Back in School and Back on Schedule, with information on:

  • The importance of in-person, well-child visits, including routine vaccinations against 17 preventable childhood diseases
  • COVID vaccines for children ages 12+
  • Affordable health insurance options for families
  • PA’s Vaccines for Children Program, which offers free vaccines

Please share the fact sheet and point families to recommended immunization schedules for children from the CDC for kids aged birth through 6 and 7 through 18.

August is also National Immunization Awareness Month. The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the American Academy of Pediatrics released a brief in July bringing awareness to the decline in routine well-child visits and vaccinations. Read the report, blog, or share posts and graphics from the social media kit.


Win-Win: Continuous Healthcare Coverage Improves Health and Saves Money

In the latest report from Georgetown University Center for Children and Families’ series on the future of children’s health coverage, the authors highlight the many benefits of continuous health insurance coverage for children, especially in Medicaid and CHIP. This policy – known as “continuous eligibility” – allows enrollees to maintain health coverage for a full 12 months and can counteract common and unnecessary disruptions in Medicaid coverage due to difficulty navigating the renewal process or fluctuations in monthly income.

Cycling on and off of Medicaid, a process known as “churning,” creates gaps in health care coverage that ultimately cause several adverse outcomes, including worsening chronic health conditions, higher administrative expenses, and increased costs for managed care organizations (MCOs).

Research has shown that continuous eligibility policy is not only linked with favorable health outcomes but also has considerable cost savings as well:

  • Individuals who lose Medicaid coverage and then reenroll after going without health care often face more expensive healthcare costs than if they had received continuous coverage. Studies have shown an estimated cost for one month of $705 compared to an estimated monthly cost of $326 for those enrolled continuously for 12 months.
  • Reducing administrative burdens of processing terminations and subsequent reenrollment applications is estimated to save an average of $400 to $600 per individual. Those savings could be used for healthcare costs as better use of resources within Medicaid.

Currently, 27 states have continuous eligibility for children in CHIP, and 25 states have it for children in Medicaid. Pennsylvania has continuous eligibility for all children in CHIP but only children younger than age 4 in Medicaid.

An important note during the COVID pandemic is that the disenrollment freeze allowed through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides for continuous enrollment during the federal public health emergency (PHE), which was just renewed again. When the PHE is lifted (not expected before January 2022) and the regular enrollment process resumes, PPC will continue to advocate for the advancement of continuous eligibility policy.

To ensure this policy is fully achieved, PPC is advocating to expand continuous eligibility in Pennsylvania to all children in Medicaid following the public health emergency.


Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Garners Passage in Senate; House Poised to Weigh In

Significant forward progress was made in recent days in the long progression for the federal government to make historic investments in the nation’s infrastructure, with Democratic leaders in the Senate rushing to move the bipartisan-supported bill through the chamber before leaving Washington for its August recess next Monday (August 9th). Procedural votes on the agreed-to proposal, including on several amendments, began yesterday and will continue through the next few days.

With the 2,700-page bill text just released yesterday, the framework calls for $1 trillion in federal spending ($550 billion in new spending) on traditional infrastructure projects like roads, railways, public transit, bridges and broadband, while less traditional elements initially championed by the Biden administration – including funds for child care initiatives (such as employer tax credits for locating a child care facility on-site) – were left on the cutting room floor. Funding for some lead remediation efforts, particularly around water pipes, is included in the current language.

Should the Senate succeed in passing the infrastructure bill in an expedited fashion, the U.S. House has already adjourned for its August recess and will not return until September 20th – meaning it will still be some time until the legislation reaches the president’s desk.

This first bipartisan bill is a foray into what is expected to be a bigger battle coming this fall for the Biden Administration and Democratic congressional leaders on the larger federal spending plan, totaling more than $3 trillion. With that legislation, Democrats will work to pass a bill using the budget reconciliation process (read: no Republican votes are needed with Vice President Kamala Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate).

The second spending proposal – which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer indicated may also start to see some movement in the chamber this week – incorporates much of President Biden’s American Families Plan, providing enhanced spending for many early childhood initiatives, including:

  • Creating a free, universal pre-k program for all 3- and 4-year-olds.
  • Capping the cost of high-quality child care for families to no more than 7% of their income and addressing early care and education workforce issues, including pay.
  • Permanently extending the Child Tax Credit and the Child Care and Dependent Tax Credit and expanding the amounts of the former initiative.
  • Instituting 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.

PPC is currently meeting (virtually) with members of our congressional delegation and their staff to talk about the importance of investing in child care in the long term, setting the stage for the need for reauthorization and funding of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program needed by next September, and the importance of the child tax credits for families. We will continue to provide updates as these proposals move through the federal legislative process.   


Thriving PA Video Series Features PPC

For children to have the healthiest start possible, they need to be insured as early as possible. That’s why PPC is a proud partner of the Thriving PA campaign. Becky Ludwick, our vice president of public policy, shares the campaign’s goals:

💜 Educate families about free or low-cost, affordable options for health insurance through Medicaid, CHIP, or Pennie, the state’s health insurance marketplace.
🧡 Encourage policymakers to expand coverage in CHIP for pregnant women and children, regardless of immigration status.

Get additional information and resources about this and our other areas of focus, perinatal health equity, nutrition supports and lead screening and abatement at www.thrivingpa.org – and stay tuned for future partner videos!


Pennie™ Reminder: Sign Up for Health Insurance through August 15th!

Pennsylvania’s health insurance marketplace, Pennie™, which connects Pennsylvanians to health coverage, became even more affordable for families thanks to the American Rescue Plan.

Sign up today during COVID relief open enrollment through August 15th. Individuals and families can enroll in coverage any time of the year, outside of the yearly open enrollment, during a qualifying life event like losing health insurance or having a baby.


In Case You Missed It...

  • The CDC recently recommended universal indoor masking at K-12 schools for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors. However, following the release of the federal guidance, the Wolf Administration and its Department of Education said schools would continue to have local decision-making authority to adhere (or not) to this recommendation and has no immediate plans to issue a mask mandate.
  • The National Association for the Education for Young Children (NAEYC) recently released a follow-up survey from its December 2020 effort, showing that four out of every five child care centers have a staffing shortage, and one out of every three respondents considered shutting down their child care program this year. The survey of 7,500 respondents was conducted between June 17th and July 5th. State-specific data will be available next week.
  • PPC signed on to a letter with dozens of state and national organizations urging federal policymakers to invest in a high-quality early care and education system to support families, businesses, and the workforce.
  • For those who missed it, OCDEL announced a further delay of the anticipated Family Support Services RFA, with current contracts now extended through July 1, 2022.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau announced last week it will not be able to release key Annual Community Survey data this fall due to the impact of the pandemic (NOTE: PPC uses this data in our annual State of Children’s Health Care report issued each October)
  • PPC’s Policy Director, Rachael Miller, recently presented on a panel also featuring U.S. Senator Bob Casey on the Hidden Foster Care System and its impacts on kinship families. 
  • CHOP Policy Lab issued information on safely implementing in-person schooling for K-12 education settings, including recommendations on masking, social distancing, isolation, and quarantine, among others. 
  • Think Of Us issued a new report, Away from Home: Youth Experiences of Institutional Placements in Foster Care. It includes lived experiences of youth who have been placed in congregate care to make recommendations for building more preventative and community-based practices to reduce the need for group care placements. 

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
200 North Third Street 13th Floor
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101
(717) 236-5680

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