WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) today introduced bipartisan legislation to help coordinate care and improve health outcomes for children with medically complex conditions in Medicaid.

“This bill is a creative idea to provide high quality, more efficient care for really sick kids through networks of providers who are willing to take responsibility for coordinating their care,” Grassley said.  “I look forward to advancing this bipartisan bill through the legislative process.”

“Kids in Colorado and around the country deserve doctors and hospitals that have every tool and resource they need to help them get better,” Bennet said. “This bill will help ensure kids receive the seamless care they deserve. We’ll continue to work closely with Senator Grassley and my colleagues to move this bill forward.”

“This is a commonsense bill that will help to ensure sick kids have better access to quality care,” Portman said. “By improving coordination among pediatric providers, we will begin to make life easier for these children and their families.”  

“Coordinating the care we provide to some of our sickest children should be a top priority,” Nelson said.  “Doing so not only eases the burden placed on their families, but it allows these kids to spend less time stuck in a hospital and more time just being a kid.”   

“Facing a complex pediatric condition is hard enough. We shouldn’t have a system that makes it harder for children and their families to access the tools they need to get better,” Blunt said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in co-sponsoring this bipartisan bill, which will help sick children in Missouri and nationwide receive the quality care they need and deserve.”

“Children and families dealing with complex medical conditions have enough to manage without adding on the stress and complexity of the current system,” Brown said. “This bill would ensure that American children have access to the best medical care available while improving efficiency and containing costs. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make these much needed improvements that will benefit our most vulnerable kids.”
The Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act of 2015 would improve care coordination, quality measures and cost containment for children in Medicaid who need specialized care and often have to cross state lines to get it.  The bill would create nationally designated networks that cross state lines under Medicaid, making it easier for the children to get needed care.  The children in need have complex illnesses and conditions including cancer, congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome and chronic health challenges from premature birth.  Specialized care can mean the difference between high mortality rates and thriving into adulthood.  The bill is popular with medical professionals at dozens of children’s hospitals across the country who treat children with complex medical needs.

Easing barriers to care through Medicaid is important because about two-thirds of the three million children with medical complexity are covered by Medicaid, representing nearly 40 percent of Medicaid costs for children.
The bill will be referred to the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicaid.  
A companion bill in the House of Representatives was introduced Tuesday.