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Journal Issue: Children and Divorce Volume 4 Number 1 Spring/Summer 1994

REVISITING THE ISSUES: Children and National Health Care Reform
Sara Rosenbaum

Treatment of Children with Chronic Illness and Disability

Only the McDermott/Wellstone bill places in one comprehensive benefit package virtually all medical care and services needed by children with chronic illness and disability, regardless of whether services are needed because of an illness or injury or a condition existing at the time of birth. Under the President's bill, certain benefits are covered in the basic benefit package only if needed to treat an illness or injury which occurs after birth. Thus, a child born with cerebral palsy would not be covered for speech therapy because the child's condition existed at birth.

The President's plan moves toward addressing these limitations by supplementing the basic guaranteed benefit package with a long-term care benefit package subsidized out of general revenues for severely disabled children and by continuing Medicaid coverage for low-income children who need care and services not covered by the basic benefit package.

The other measures include no supplemental long-term care program. The Cooper/Breaux bill would entirely repeal the Medicaid program. States would be responsible for long-term care and for services for persons with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The other measures would place flat spending limits on certain items and services used by low-income children such as mental health and rehabilitation services received on an outpatient basis.