After a holiday break, Voices for Children is back at work and anticipating the start of the state legislative session tomorrow. Today also marks the start of our quarter focused on the issue of health.
In my experience, having good health is kind of like having a functional automobile — it’s easy to take it for granted until something goes wrong. After being with my own family for the holidays, the issue of health feels more personal than usual. I caught up on the health of many relatives and the news was not always good. It really brought home for me the importance of improving our health care system — not only for the 47,000 Nebraska kids who currently lack health insurance but also for all of us who have loved ones who have been impacted financially, physically, and emotionally by the flaws in our current system of care.
It seems obvious to say, but access to quality affordable health care is good for kids. It helps their moms care for them even before birth, facilitates healthy development, and allows them to become good students. The opposite is also true. Kids without access to quality health care are more likely to experience challnges that impact other areas of their life from school participation to peer relationships. Health includes not only physical well-being, but also behavioral and emotional health. Access to behavioral health care services plays a critical role in keeping families safe and together.
With the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act, Nebraska and other states currently have an opportunity to work to improve our system of care and ensure that every child has health insurance by 2014. With the start of the legislative session tomorrow, we also have the opportunity to improve our Medicaid program to ensure that it meets the physical and behavioral health needs of all Nebraska kids.
You’ll hear more from us on these issues in the coming weeks, and we hope that you will stand with us as we work to make 2012 a healthy year for Nebraska kids.