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U.S. House Passes Bill Inspired By Tampa St. Joseph's Hospital Clinic

A doctor places a stethoscope on a baby's heart as a mother holds the child.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to encourage states to better coordinate health care for children with complex medical conditions.

The ACE Kids Act, included in HR 7217, the IMPROVE Act, is modeled after The St. Joseph’s Children’s Chronic-Complex Clinic in Tampa and incentivizes states to create similar "medical homes" at other hospitals.

Most children with complex medical conditions, including premature birth, congenital disorders, cerebral palsy, heart disease and more, receive care from multiple specialists often are located at different clinics and hospitals.

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, who co-sponsored the bill, said it's often difficult to navigate health care for these children.

"Often times, you have one doctor on one side of town, maybe the other doctor on the other side of town, or even worse, the specialist is out of state, and the Medicaid rules say, 'oh, no, you cannot see that specialist' and meanwhile, you just want the best for your child,’ Castor said.

Families access these specialized doctors through Medicaid, which is federally funded but administered by state governments.

Castor said states who adopt the ACE Kids Act guidelines will get more federal funding.

"I'm sure folks are going to press the state of Florida to take advantage of that and it will be worthwhile for Florida because it will get a 15 percent increase in their federal Medicaid matching rate,’ Castor said. “We want that to be more but this is a start."

The proposal has to pass through the U.S Senate before it goes to President Donald Trump's desk to be signed into law.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.
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