July 26, 2018

Luján, Kennedy Introduce Bill to Strengthen Kids' Access to Health Care

Bipartisan legislation would streamline cross-border Medicaid reimbursement process

[Washington, D.C.] – Today, Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), and David McKinley (R-WV) introduced bipartisan legislation to streamline the reimbursement process for care provided to children outside the state where they are enrolled in a Medicaid program. The “Accelerating Kids’ Access to Care Act” would create an enhanced screening and enrollment process for Medicaid’s pediatric providers and suppliers when there is a low risk for fraud, waste, and abuse. 

“Medicaid coverage is integral to keeping kids and families healthy across the country, but it is critical to ensure the program works for health care providers and hospitals, too. This bill is an important step towards enabling providers to care for all patients, no matter where they call home,” said Luján. “I’m grateful to San Juan Regional Medical Center – a New Mexico hospital that also borders Utah, Arizona, and Colorado – for bringing this issue to my attention. Providers should be able to focus on taking the best care of these rural neighbors without having to worry if they will be paid for their services.”

“Complex, burdensome rules and regulations should never barricade a child from the lifesaving care he or she deserves,” said Kennedy. “State borders cannot stand in the way of kids and families seeking specialized care at one of our Commonwealth’s world-renowned hospitals. By passing the Accelerating Kids’ Access to Care Act, we can ensure that young lives aren’t lost or forever altered because of a bureaucratic delay.”

“When parents get news that their child needs specialized health care, we must work to remove barriers that would keep them from accessing treatment,” said Herrera Beutler. “I’ve been a steady advocate for helping kids on Medicaid cross state lines to receive the care they need. Given this commitment, I’m pleased to join my colleagues in taking another important bipartisan action to pave the way for every family to access quality medical care regardless of where they live or their income level.”

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

The Accelerating Kids’ Access to Care Act is supported by San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, NM, which initially raised this issue with Luján.

“San Juan Regional Medical Center is deeply appreciative for the support of Congressman Ben Ray Luján and his co-sponsors for introducing the “Accelerating Kids’ Access to Care” act, a bill aimed at streamlining enrollment for Medicaid providers and suppliers across state lines," said Jeff Bourgeois, CEO of the San Juan Regional Medical Center. "Our hospital and local physician practices are uniquely located in the Four Corners Area to serve patients from Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Any effort to reduce the paperwork burden of physicians, hospitals and other Medicaid providers so that they can be enabled to provide access to care for Medicaid beneficiaries helps us serve our communities better and allows patients access to more timely care. Additionally, at San Juan Reginal Medical Center, we often receive Medicaid patients with emergent conditions from our neighboring states and we feel we should be able to provide care for those patients with the assurance of being paid for the delivery of that care.” 

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