WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kit Bond today sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) as well as Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-MT) urging them not to overlook the interests of America’s children in the current health care debate.


                “As the debate on health care reform continues in the Senate, I encourage you to ensure that the interests of children in healthcare are not overlooked,” Bond wrote.


               Bond has long fought to improve health care for our children. Unfortunately, children are still underrepresented.  Bond pointed out that while children account for 25 percent of the health-care population, they only account for 10 percent of the health-care dollars spent.  To ensure children are not left further behind in the current health-care debate, Bond called on the two committees to protect children’s hospitals – which treat any child regardless of ability to pay and are a crucial safety net.  Bond stressed that it is important to continue Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) Payments to these nonprofit children’s hospitals. Children’s hospitals use DSH payments to cover the difference between the amount Medicaid pays for a service and the actual cost of that service. Missouri has a large number of nonprofit and safety-net hospitals across the state including Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics in Kansas City and St. Louis Children’s Hospital and SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis.


                The Senator called on his colleagues to keep in mind that coverage does not equal access. To protect children’s access to health care, the Senator urged the committees to protect the health-care benefits and access to medical care already available to children across the country. Bond warned that any legislation that provides inadequate reimbursement rates to the nation’s medical providers by government programs such as Medicaid will lead to a reduction in services available to children.


               It is also important to safeguard our Children’s Graduate Medical Education and Medicaid Graduate Medical Education programs, Bond stressed. These programs provide funding to children’s teaching hospitals to support the training of pediatric and other residents in graduate medical education. As the nation is experiencing a shortage in pediatricians and pediatric specialists these programs are particularly vital in ensuring children receive quality care. 


            The Senator’s efforts to protect the interests of America’s children in the health care debate were praised today by officials at both Children’s Mercy and St. Louis Children’s Hospitals.


            "As Congress debates various health care reform proposals, Senator Kit Bond remains a strong advocate for ensuring comprehensive access to providers serving the unique health care needs of Missouri's children," said Lee Fetter, president of St. Louis Children's Hospital.          


             “Senator Bond is once again the voice for children through his timely and pertinent letter to the Senate leaders on health care reform,” said Randall L. O’Donnell, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City. “At a time when our nation is attempting to solve health care problems, it is of paramount importance to ensure that access and appropriate reimbursement for children’s health is a top priority.”