As our nation confronts a public health threat greater than any we’ve seen in a century, every person, every patient, every family is struggling to understand and manage the devastating and far-ranging effects of the new coronavirus — from its impact on their health and the health of their loved ones, caregivers, and health care providers to its impact on their communities, jobs, and the health care and social services systems that serve them.
While children make up a relatively small portion of the coronavirus patient population, almost every aspect of their daily lives has been disrupted by COVID-19. Children have experienced a lack of access to child care, school, and other learning opportunities. They have lacked access to routine health care, including vaccines, treatment for common child illnesses, treatment for chronic health issues, and screening and treatment for developmental health concerns. They have experienced increased family stress and economic instability due to job loss, food and housing insecurity, and increased anxiety, isolation, and loneliness related to quarantine and social distancing policies. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 crisis is having a broad and devastating impact on children’s health and well-being.
The needs of children during the pandemic are wide-ranging, but having access to safe and stable health care and support services is foundational to their health and well-being. This means that protecting and strengthening Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the other programs that support children’s healthy development must be an urgent priority for policymakers as our nation navigates the broader impacts of COVID-19.