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Utah needs to support Medicaid expansion initiative

In this July 12, 2012 photo, two women wait in an exam room.
In this July 12, 2012 photo, two women wait in an exam room.
Associated Press

The state of Utah needs to support the Medicaid expansion initiative as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We need to do this because poverty is the single greatest threat to our childrens' well-being.

Recent census data shows that 16 percent of Utah's kids live below the federal poverty level with 25 percent of Washington County Children and 43 percent of single moms also living with the disability of poverty. Poverty affects infants and children in many ways, including brain and behavioral development as well as educational and health outcomes.

If we do not deal with these issues in childhood, we can expect to raise another generation of unaffordable adults that will be plagued by diabetes, obesity and mental health disabilities. We cannot simply solve the issue of poverty with the federal expansion of Medicaid. However, in Utah we love our kids. We have the highest birth rate in the nation at 88 births per 1,000 women a year. Not every person or family is fortunate enough, smart enough or healthy enough to be accountable for providing for their own health care.

The Medicaid expansion will help cover more children and adults that currently do no have health insurance, as well as allow more doctors to be able to afford to see these patients. I am a doctor, a mother, a patient and a taxpayer. I can think of no better way to spend my federal tax dollar than investing in the health and well being of our children.

The idea in this day and age that we are not supporting quality health care for all our children while we have this golden opportunity is just not right. The children deserve it, the doctors deserve it, and until we can solve poverty, it is a step in the right direction.

Claudia Fruin

Legislative chairwoman of Utah Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics