U.S. Senator Bob Casey Proposes Bill for Universal Child Health Care Access

Children's health© Sorapop Udomsri / Canva

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, introduced a bill on Friday aimed at expanding health care access to all American children. The proposed legislation, known as the Medicaid for Every Child Act, would automatically enroll every child in Medicaid at birth, extending coverage until they turn 18.

Senator Casey emphasized the moral imperative of the initiative, stating, “As Americans, it is our solemn obligation to ensure every child has the support they need to reach their full potential.” He added, “My Medicaid for Every Child Act will ensure that no American child will ever again be forced to grow up without access to health care.”

The proposed act allows parents the option to opt their child out of Medicaid if they have alternative coverage, such as eligibility for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), marketplace coverage, or employer-provided insurance.

The introduction of this legislation follows an 11% increase in children’s enrollment in health insurance from February 2020 to June 2021. This boost was a direct result of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress during the pandemic, which mandated states to maintain children’s coverage through Medicaid or CHIP.

However, the rollback of these pandemic-era requirements has jeopardized many children’s health care coverage as Medicaid and CHIP eligibility are reevaluated nationwide. The Medicaid for Every Child Act seeks to address this issue by ensuring uninterrupted health care access for all children.

This bill aligns with Senator Casey’s larger child welfare agenda, known as the Five Freedoms for America’s Children. Introduced in 2021, this legislative package aims to guarantee every American child five core freedoms: the freedom to be healthy, economically secure, educated, free from hunger, and safe from harm. The automatic enrollment of children in Medicaid at birth falls under the “freedom to be healthy” category.

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The introduction of the Medicaid for Every Child Act marks a significant step towards universal health care access for children, reinforcing the commitment to child welfare at the heart of Senator Casey’s legislative agenda.

Read more about the Medicaid for Every Child Act here.

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