Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: More Child Care Legislation Needed in 1991

Category: Access To Children's Health Care


The American Academy of Pediatrics is working closely with Congress to try to increase healthy insurance availability for many of the poor children in our society who are not receiving adequate basic care needs. About 13% of American children (about 8l.3 million) have no health insurance at all, private or public. Millions more are underinsured and do not receive all the vaccines or the well child care visits they need. The 102nd Congress will be under pressure by consumers, business and labor leaders and health professionals to solve the problems of these uninsured and underinsured children. With 1992 elections looming, politicians will be hopefully facing the issue intelligently and working out a carefully planned universal coverage program phased in over time to help these children. It is certainly most humane to take care of children first in the spectrum of individuals in our society who need health care and to make sure they get the basic disease preventing boosters and adequate nutrition and iron intake, etc. so that they can grow up healthy and be self supporting. This has been shown in study after study to be money saving over the long run and the most intelligent use of health dollars. Hopefully as a society with good congressional leadership and with the American Academy of Pediatrics input we will make taking good care of all the babies in our society a top priority in our future.

Another very important area for child care legislation in 1991 includes legislation to address pediatric AIDS. There has been a 41% increase in pediatric AIDS cases in 1990 and this growing population will require greater research, and treatment and social services. Children are living longer now with AIDS. Will the facilities needed to care for them be available as they do live longer? Hopefully, after the recent Pediatric AIDS Coalition Congress held the weekend of February 9th through 12th, intelligent plans and policy will fall into place to address these issues. At present the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Bill or CARE Bill is in place but only 1/4 of the money recommended to support the bill has been authorized. Greater support for this growing cause of death and suffering in young people will need to be faced and supported. AIDS is the ninth leading cause of death among children 1 to 4 and the seventh leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 24. During the 90's it is expected to move into the top five leading causes of death for children. We must also continue to provide education about AIDS and its prevention. This is the best means of slowing the spread of this scary disease which will literally change the face of health care in the world as we know it today.

Another important area of child care legislation which will be faced by the 102nd Congress in 1991 and 1992 includes the family and medical leave bill which was vetoed by President Bush in 1990. With new elections in 92 he and other political candidates will certainly be under pressure to pass this bill or some form of it. The bill would guarantee American employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or a sick child, spouse or parent. Research and common sense tells you that establishing a solid bond with your new baby is critical for healthy physical and emotional growth of the child and the relationship of the entire family. This is also important for any newly adopted child regardless of age and is important when a spouse or parent is sick. Pediatricians all know the critical importance of having a parent present when a sick child is hospitalized and the power of that parent's love and support in the healing of their child. We must begin to legislatively provide support for these important family life needs to catch up with the many other modern industrialized countries which have had this in place for over ten years.