Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: More Child Care Legislation Needed in 1991

Category: Positive Parenting


    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 relation­


ship 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.