APA Practice Organization advocates for childrens’ health care legislation

New legislation would, among other provisions, include pediatric psychologists in nationally designated children’s hospital care networks.

On May 19, 2015, APA Executive Director for Professional Practice Katherine C. Nordal, PhD,  sent a letter (PDF, 189KB) to several prominent members of Congress supporting the Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act of 2015 (the “ACE Kids Act”). The ACE Kids Act is bipartisan legislation introduced earlier this year that aims to improve care coordination for children in Medicaid with medically complex conditions.

These children suffer from multiple illnesses and disabilities and often see a dozen or more physicians, some of whom may be located across state lines. Under the current Medicaid system, the parents of these kids struggle to coordinate the complex care their children need.

In addition to the difficulties created for families, the current fragmented system of care leads to increased cost. Children with medically complex conditions account for 40 percent of Medicaid costs for children.

The ACE Kids Act would seek to address these issues by creating nationally designated children’s hospital care networks, each of which would encompass the full range of children’s health care providers, including primary care physicians, pediatric psychologists, and acute and post-acute care providers. 

Children’s hospitals would anchor the networks and would focus on outpatient care in order to reduce hospitalizations and emergency room visits and to make sure children get the care they need, in the most appropriate setting, closest to home. The program would be voluntary for states, and participation in a network would be voluntary for families, as well as psychologists and other health care providers.

Importantly, the ACE Kids Act would allow for greater integration of psychological care with the medical care received by children with medically complex conditions. Emotional and behavioral health affect physical health, and optimal treatment effectiveness and efficiency can only be achieved if psychological care is tightly woven into the service delivery system.

If enacted, the ACE Kids Act would provide opportunities to improve care coordination for children with medically complex conditions and lessen the burden on their families, while lowering Medicaid costs and better integrating pediatric psychologists with the other health care professionals involved in caring for these children.

”The APA Practice Organization was happy to join with the Children’s Hospital Association and the nation’s leading children’s hospitals in support of the ACE Kids Act,” said APA Executive Director for Professional Practice Katherine C. Nordal, PhD. “This legislation can improve care for children, reduce costs and further the role of psychologists in integrated care.”