Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and Children and Youth With Special Health Care Needs

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Abstract

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was designed to (1) decrease the number of uninsured Americans, (2) make health insurance and health care affordable, and (3) improve health outcomes and performance of the health care system. During the design of ACA, children in general and children and youth with special health care needs and disabilities (CYSHCN) were not a priority because before ACA, a higher proportion of children than adults had insurance coverage through private family plans, Medicaid, or the State Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP). ACA benefits CYSHCN through provisions designed to make health insurance coverage universal and continuous, affordable, and adequate. Among the limitations of ACA for CYSHCN are the exemption of plans that had been in existence before ACA, lack of national standards for insurance benefits, possible elimination or reductions in funding for CHIP, and limited experience with new delivery models for improving care while reducing costs. Advocacy efforts on behalf of CYSHCN must track implementation of ACA at the federal and the state levels. Systems and payment reforms must emphasize access and quality improvements for CYSHCN over cost savings. Developmental-behavioral pediatrics must be represented at the policy level and in the design of new delivery models to assure high quality and cost-effective care for CYSHCN.

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