As a neonatologist based in Kansas City, I have recently witnessed the debate over what occurs during pregnancy from many points of view in Missouri, Kansas and across the country. However, caring for newborns every day, I feel we do not discuss often enough the health of children who have already been born. I see the stark contrast: Policy efforts to sustain pregnancy at all costs quickly transform into “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” as soon as the umbilical cord is cut.
Last month, Kansans took to the polls and sent our lawmakers a resounding message: It is time to stop attacking reproductive rights and instead focus on protecting the health and well-being of children after birth. As a pediatrician, I would like to offer up some ways we can be champions of pro-child policies.
Pro-child policies should include improved access to quality primary, subspecialty, mental and behavioral health care for children and families, including Medicaid expansion. The Affordable Care Act allows states to opt in to an expanded Medicaid program that provides affordable coverage to millions of families. Yet Kansas lawmakers continue to reject expansion. And even after Missouri voters passed expansion, the General Assembly had to be forced by the state Supreme Court to allow low-income families to apply for the program.