SOURCE: Children's Hospital Association of Texas

Influence Opinions

April 16, 2015 13:53 ET

Children's Hospitals in Texas Ask State Legislature to Improve Medicaid Reimbursement

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwired - April 16, 2015) - Children's hospitals in Texas are asking Texas state budget writers to increase funding for services provided at children's hospitals in the Medicaid program. These hospitals, members of the Children's Hospital Association of Texas (CHAT), provide pediatric services that any child in Texas could need some day.

Children's hospitals are known for providing high quality, specialized pediatric care to children with the most serious medical conditions from all across Texas. In 2012, the eight CHAT member hospitals provided inpatient care to children living in 241 of the 254 counties in Texas. Almost 90,000 children were admitted to CHAT member hospitals in 2012, including 5,464 newborns that needed the highest levels of neonatal intensive care and were transferred from other hospitals. There were more than 630,000 emergency room visits and 1.5 million outpatient visits at CHAT member hospitals in that same year.

"Every 66 seconds, a child is born in Texas," stated Rick Merrill, chief executive officer of Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth and chairman of the board of CHAT. "We have seen the population of children in Texas grow rapidly, and our hospital and other children's hospitals have seen a significant increase in the number and medical complexity of children treated in the last few years. We are asking that our state's elected officials allocate adequate resources so that we can continue to provide timely access to the pediatric health care services that children need."

Children's hospitals play a major role training pediatricians, pediatric subspecialists, nurses and other health care professionals who will be needed to serve the booming Texas child population -- the third fastest growing among states in 2014 -- in a variety of practice settings, including private offices and clinics, local hospitals and children's hospitals and their affiliated outpatient specialty clinics.

"Children's hospitals are committed to improving the health and well-being of children in Texas," said Bryan Sperry, president of CHAT. "We are working to build the capacity to provide the right care in the right time and in the right place." That could be an urgent care clinic or primary care practice to keep children out of the emergency department, a specialty clinic or telemedicine services for children in communities distant from a children's hospital, or the teams of pediatric experts at children's hospitals who can treat a child with a congenital heart defect, cancer, a traumatic injury or some other complex medical problem.

Medicaid provides health coverage to more than 3 million kids in Texas, making it the single largest health insurance program for children in the state. Because Medicaid covers children with disabilities, children in the foster care system and children from lower income families, children's hospitals rely heavily on Medicaid to pay for patient services. For CHAT members, all not-for-profit health organizations, 57 percent of all the inpatient days of care are for children covered by Medicaid (2012).

Medicaid payments need to cover the costs of serving Medicaid patients so that children's hospitals can continue to invest in the clinical capacity, training programs, medical research and quality improvement that will ensure access to the range of expert care that any child could need.

"We recognize that there are many competing state spending needs in our fast growing state, and we hope that the Texas Legislature will step up to the challenge of funding medical care for the most vulnerable children appropriately," Sperry said. "There is a life-long payoff when we invest in the health and wellbeing of a child, and we should ensure that they continue to have access to top-quality medical facilities, technology and expertise now and in the future."

About the Children's Hospital Association of Texas
The mission of the Children's Hospital Association of Texas (CHAT) is to support the development of an effective, comprehensive, high quality and appropriately funded children's healthcare delivery system in Texas. Since 1989, CHAT has worked to advance its goals and public policy objectives in cooperation with other trade associations, advocacy groups, state agencies and the Texas Legislature. For more information visit www.childhealthtx.org. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChildHospAssnTX and on Twitter at @ChildHospAssnTX.

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