Op-Ed: Julia Rosenberg, MD – All Children Need Health Care
March 22, 2019
When I embarked on a career as a pediatrician, I had a simple mission: I wanted to provide compassionate care to poor children and families. I was heartbroken when I learned that this goal of being available to care for vulnerable children was not so simple. More than 10,000 Connecticut children did not qualify to walk through the doors of our clinic: undocumented children, none of whom are eligible for state Medicaid.
In Connecticut, these children, who have often endured trauma and have specialized healthcare needs, do not have a guaranteed path to health insurance. In New York, where I trained in medical school, all children, documented or not, are eligible for health insurance. But here in Connecticut, like in most of the United States, undocumented children do not qualify for Medicaid. That leaves hundreds of thousands of children, thousands in Connecticut alone, without health insurance.
Countless studies have shown why children need health insurance. Without it, children’s short-term and long-term health suffers. Pediatric patients with continuous health insurance coverage are more likely to be physically healthy and are more likely to excel. Compared to their uninsured peers, insured children avoid risky behaviors (like drug and alcohol use), do better in school, and have successful careers. Insured children also become healthier adults, with fewer costly and painful chronic conditions.
(Dr. Rosenberg, together with attorneys from the Center for Children’s Advocacy and additional partners, are working to pass Senate Bill 1053 to provide access to medical insurance for Connecticut children who are undocumented)