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Aimee Ossman's picture

Just like parents all across the country, you probably have stories to tell about your children’s health care experiences. No one needs to hear these stories more than the members of Congress who are making decisions right now about the future of health care in America.

I am director of Medicaid and state policy analysis for the National Association of Children's Hospitals (N.A.C.H.) and have worked on children's health policy issues most of my career. I am also a mom to two energetic young boys -- Owen, 7 and Carter, 3. I know not only from my professional work, but also because I am a mom, how important health care is for children.  Children who do not have access to health care are more likely to miss school which can negatively affect educational achievement. Many adult chronic conditions originate in childhood. A child's ability to access preventive and needed health care services when they are young can impact their long term health and their quality of life well into adulthood. Without access to health care coverage, children often delay needed medical care and miss well-child visits.

Many of my friends and family not familiar with the intricacies of health policy ask me why including children in the health care debate means so much to me since I have private health insurance coverage for my kids. It is important to me because I believe that Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program are an important safety net for many families and would be there for my family if we needed them. It is important to me to support the physician workforce for children so that all children can have access to the specialty care they need when they need it. It is also important to me to improve the quality information available so that when children need health care their parents have the information required to make educated decisions. Children have a lot to gain in health reform, but they also have the most to lose if health reform does not address their needs.

That is why I believe making sure that children have a voice in health reform is the right action to take. Why is it important to you that children's needs be included? Your family’s story might be about how hard it is to get the right health care coverage, or to find the right specialists and get a timely appointment, or to pay for health insurance premiums, co-pays and uncovered services. Or maybe you’ve had a sick child and were able to access the care you needed thanks to the health coverage you do have and want to make sure that other parents and families have the same experience. Please share your family’s health care story at The Speak Now for Kids campaign is non-partisan and is uniquely focused on making sure our elected officials don’t forget about kids as they are reforming our health care system.

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