Pediatricians’ offices and hospitals are experiencing higher volumes of patients and many are at or beyond capacity
Washington, DC — On Monday, Nov. 14, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) sent a letter to President Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra asking to declare an emergency to support a national response to the alarming surge of pediatric respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza, along with the continuing children’s mental health emergency.
Significant capacity issues in pediatric hospitals and communities require flexibilities that can only be provided through a formal emergency declaration by the President and the HHS Secretary. These flexibilities have been provided during COVID-19 and were critical during peaks in infections and ongoing fluctuations of the virus. Children’s providers require the same capacity support as they strive to keep up with increasing needs of infants, children and adolescents.
“President Biden and Secretary Becerra have been invaluable leaders to children’s hospitals across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we implore them to renew their commitment to pediatric health care and give us the resources necessary to control the ongoing RSV and flu surge with the continuing children’s mental health emergency,” said CHA CEO Mark Wietecha. “Our system is stretched to its limit and without immediate attention the crisis will only worsen.”
The dual emergency declarations requested would allow waiver of certain Medicare, Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements so that hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers may share resources in a coordinated effort to care for their community and have access to emergency funding to keep up with the growing demands, specifically related to workforce support.
"We are making this urgent request now because the crisis unfolding across the country warrants immediate, comprehensive action from the federal government. We must address longstanding underinvestment in Medicaid and increase payment rates to at least what Medicare and private insurance pay for the same services. Pediatricians are rising to this challenge once again but we need federal action to allow the flexibilities and resources to support this care. And, we need to remain focused on how this emergency is disproportionately impacting historically under-resourced communities.," said Mark Del Monte, CEO of the AAP.
The letter also calls on the administration to mitigate the supply, equipment and drug shortages that also threaten the ability to provide consistent and reliable care for pediatric patients.
To learn more, you can find the entire letter here.
About the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.
About the Children’s Hospital Association
Children’s Hospital Association is the national voice of more than 220 children’s hospitals, advancing child health through innovation in the quality, cost and delivery of care.