AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)- Children's Hospital Colorado is joining the fight against the Republican health care bill. They want to make sure that sick children are not left behind.
Sen. Cory Gardner was able to get a new provision in the revised version of the bill to protect Medicaid for some of the most vulnerable children.
Children's Hospital says the bill still falls short of protecting all children on Medicaid, those with disabilities and chronic diseases, for whom the insurance is a last resort.
"We are the party of kids and we are unapologeticly going to do whats best for kids," said Heidi Baskfield, Executive Director of Advocacy at Children's Hospital Colorado.
Sick and disabled children have been caught up in a debate over how to reform the nation's health care system, specifically Medicaid.
A safety net set up for children has expanded to a nearly $600 billion program, with adults accounting for the vast majority of the spending.
In Colorado, children still make up nearly half the recipients but only 13 percent of the costs.
Baskfield says with fewer Medicaid dollars to go around, money for children will be siphoned off.
"Over time, it creates long-term negative "ratchet down" effect for dollars available to support the pediatric population. And so, what you find self in is a year, two years, three years from now, Medicaid has to start thinking about changing eligibility requirements or cutting back benefits or both for kids as result of trying to divert funds for adults," said Baskfield.
Children's Hospital reached out to Sen. Gardner for help.
"He was very quick to respond," said Baskfield.
Gardner was able to get a provision in the bill to bar states from diverting Medicaid dollars meant for kids with disabilities. But Baskfield says that's just 17,000 of the 500,000 children on Medicaid.
"I think this means he has to go to his colleagues and say to them, 'This is what we're doing for kids. We know this is the right thing to do," said Baskfield.
Gardner told CBS4's Political Specialist Shaun Boyd that he is continuing to fight for changes in the legislation and says throughout the amendment process there will be more revisions.
Sen. Michael Bennet told CBS4 that he is open to any ideas that could create protections for children on Medicaid but says the bill is so flawed that it's hard to see how any amendments could realistically do that.
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