by Katie Blount, DO, Jefferson City, MO
As a general pediatrician practicing in Jefferson City, I support policy that supports kids. By providing immediate, continuous medical coverage upon enrollment in MO HealthNet, as proposed in HB 2379, we can improve continuity of care that we provide for the children of Missouri.
As fast as children grow and develop, it is critical that pediatricians are able to closely monitor their progress. I recently saw a child who was about to turn two-years-old whom I had not seen since they were nine months old due to losing their insurance coverage. They had missed three routine wellness visits that normally would have occurred in that time. I found that the child is behind in their speech development, something that we try to provide support and intervention for as soon as possible in order to help them close the development gap and identify any underlying medical causes as soon as possible.
I also recently was supposed to see a patient for a follow up visit to check on their asthma, however the appointment was cancelled due to their insurance coverage lapsing. A few days later, the same child had to be seen in the Emergency Room for an asthma exacerbation.
Unfortunately, these instances are becoming more common. My patients are having to go long stretches of time without being able to come to their medical home. This is resulting in delayed detection of problems or missing opportunities to provide preventative management. Both failures can lead to medical problems progressing further than they would have and requiring additional medical resources.
One of my favorite aspects of my job is working to keep children healthy and helping them to reach their full potential. As pediatricians, when we can work with families to accomplish these things, our patients can then go on to become a strong, healthy, next generation- they are our future leaders and workforce. Providing children with 12 months continuous coverage on Medicaid ensures that children receive the care they need.