Schumer Pledges to Fight Medicaid Cuts
Senator Stands up for Medically Fragile Children in Visit to Blythedale Children's Hospital
This morning, in the rotunda of Blythedale Children's Hospital, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer was surrounded by a large crowd of children and their families, Hospital trustees and staff, as he announced a major initiative to protect two-and-a-half million children in New York State. Schumer's visit symbolized the nationwide effort to publicize critical programs that were gutted in the House of Representatives' health care plan and the President's budget.
According to the Senator, the Administration's proposed budget would hurt more than 26,000 children in Westchester and Rockland Counties, and the cuts would mean that thousands of Hudson Valley children would lose access to affordable health care that working families rely on.
"Medicaid and other programs that provide healthcare to kids need to be strengthened, not cut," said Senator Schumer. "When it comes to something as important as healthcare, we cannot allow a situation to arise in which children cannot get the checkup or prescription they need because their family cannot afford the payments or insurance. Since 2008 we have seen the number of uninsured children cut in half. It is because of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that children can get the medical services they so desperately require."
The Senator was welcomed to Blythedale by Hospital President & CEO Larry Levine, who in his opening remarks noted the unfortunate circumstances of the visit, given the "draconian health policy debate going on in Washington" which has created widespread concern amongst the pediatric healthcare community.
He expressed his vigorous opposition to the proposed cuts to Medicaid and CHIP, remarking that both programs cover 40 million children in the United States, including two-and-a-half million in New York State. At Blythedale, 73% of the children the Hospital treats are covered by Medicaid and CHIP.
"No matter what your view on the role and size of government, I hope we can all agree that preserving the health of children is an important societal goal," said Larry Levine. "We are looking at around $800 billion in Medicaid and CHIP cuts over the next 10 years. This would cause unspeakable hardships for families already devastated by their child’s illness. And, it would cut reimbursement to safety net children’s hospitals such as ours, where families and children rely on us to provide the highest level of quality care. As a nation we are better than this."
Mr. Levine thanked the Senator for his support, and called upon him to "urge your Senate colleagues to think of the faces of these children, whose lives are dependent upon rational and humane healthcare legislation."
Attendees at today's press conference also heard from Renee Saltzman, whose daughter, Emilie, sustained a severe traumatic brain injury in October 2015, after falling from a horse. She spent four months as an inpatient at Blythedale, relearning how to speak, eat and walk.
"Our family found ourselves in this place that we never thought that we would be, having a child with a traumatic brain injury, a disability, and not having medical coverage to carry her through her recovery," said Renee Saltzman. "Medicaid made it possible for Emilie to stay at Blythedale as an inpatient and to continue her care as an outpatient, and she continues to receive Medicaid for her needed therapies."
Stephanie Doyle, whose daughter Isla has a rare genetic disorder and receives care at Blythedale, also spoke out against the proposed cuts.
"Every time I listen to the radio or I hear the news, and I hear politicians talk about families “having more skin in the game” when it comes to healthcare, I want them to know that my body is raw raising a child with a serious medical condition and when I think about the financial ruin and how it would affect her healthcare without the extra support of Medicaid, I am bleeding," she said. "So please don't take this away from our family and families like ours, because I don't know what I would do. And don’t insult me by asking me to have more skin in the game, because it’s all there."
Senator Schumer also toured the Hospital's Infant & Toddler Unit, and pledged his commitment to standing up for medically fragile children.
"The combination of cuts to healthcare for our kids in the new Trump budget and the House's bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act are cruel and counterproductive," said the Senator. "It is a nasty one-two punch that hurts the most vulnerable among us -- our kids -- and I will fight with any and all colleagues in the Senate to beat them back."
About Blythedale Children’s Hospital
As New York’s only freestanding, specialty children’s hospital, Blythedale is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of children with medical complexity, through superb multi-disciplinary patient care, teaching, research, and advocacy programs. Blythedale’s board-certified physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff (social workers, respiratory therapists, clinical pharmacists, Child Life specialists, etc.) and New York State’s largest hospital-based pediatric therapy department work together to provide intensive and innovative multi-disciplinary clinical and therapeutic care to help children achieve their medical and rehabilitative goals for independent living, and return to their communities. Blythedale is also the only Hospital in New York State with its own, on-site public school district.
For more information about Blythedale Children’s Hospital, visit www.blythedale.org.