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BearNet News - Winter 2010

Health Care Reform Legislation Approved By Senate

On December 24, 2009 the Senate approved its health reform legislation by a vote of 60 to 39. The vote was entirely along party lines with all 60 Senators within the Democratic caucus voting in favor of the legislation and 39 Republicans voting against it.

The Senate bill will next be reconciled with the legislation approved by the House of Representatives on November 7, 2009. While the two bills' competing provisions will have to be reconciled, there are many elements that will not need to be reconciled because they are included within both the House and Senate versions of the legislation. These include provisions to provide insurance to approximately 30 million presently uninsured Americans, an estimated savings of more than $1 trillion over the next two decades, tax breaks to help small businesses pay for employee coverage, and a variety of other provisions intended to protect patients' rights.

Throughout the health care reform debate, Children's National has continued to advocate for children's health priorities. On December 10, 2009, Children's National along with more than 60 children's hospitals, signed onto a letter to House and Senate leadership that underscores an important reality in children's health care: health insurance coverage does not guarantee access to care without payment rates that at least cover the cost of care.

Medicaid is the single largest insurer of America's children, covering one in four children nationwide. Children's hospitals across the country provide 44 percent of all inpatient care for children enrolled in Medicaid. Therefore, Medicaid is extremely important for children and for children's hospitals. It is particularly important that Congress recognize that for children, coverage alone will not translate into access to care unless the inadequacy of Medicaid reimbursement rates is addressed.

Presently, on average, Medicaid reimburses children's hospitals approximately 67 percent of the cost of care, despite the fact that more than half of most children's hospitals' inpatient days are devoted to children covered by Medicaid. Because Medicaid reimbursement rates often do not cover the cost of care, many pediatric providers limit or do not accept Medicaid patients. In light of this reality, Children's National is urging Congress to improve children's access to care by increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates to pediatric providers. The letter urges Congress to include in the final legislation the House provision on Medicaid payment rates for primary care providers (Section 1721) and that the provision also be expanded to include pediatric specialty services.

In the Senate, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has attempted to address this issue by filing an amendment to increase Medicaid payment rates for pediatric care. Senator Brown's amendment would ensure that Medicaid payments for pediatric care services would be no less than 80 percent of what Medicare pays for comparable services beginning in 2010, 90 percent in 2011, and 100 percent in 2012 and subsequent years.

Another issue included in the broad healthcare reform proposal that could jeopardize children's access to health care is the proposal to reduce or even eliminate Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funding for children's hospitals. Administered by Medicaid, DSH funding is a supplemental payment made to safety net hospitals that serve a “disproportionate share of Medicaid and uninsured patients.” Children's National is one of these disproportionate share hospitals. DSH payments partially close the shortfall between what Medicaid pays and what it actually costs to provide services. Since Medicaid reimbursements for hospitals are expected to remain well below the cost of care even with the reforms being proposed, by also cutting DSH payments, the impact of health care reform may actually increase children's hospitals' Medicaid losses. Therefore, Children's National and other children's hospitals are urging Congress to continue DSH funding for safety net hospitals.

Finally, Children's National wants Congress to ensure a smooth transition and protection for children moving from the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) into a proposed health insurance exchange. Children's National asserts that children should not lose coverage, benefits, or cost sharing protections as a result of health reform. Public coverage programs and the new health insurance exchanges should ensure that children have affordable coverage, with benefits that meet their unique health care needs, and access to the right care at the right time and in the right setting. Children's National supports the enrollment of children in health insurance exchanges as long as the exchanges are robust, allied with strong health plans, and that they ensure participation of appropriate providers based on adequate reimbursement. Because the exchanges will be new, a smooth transition will be required to move children from existing programs to the exchange.

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First Lady visits Children's National Medical Center

First Lady Michelle Obama vists Children's National for the first time with daughters, Sasha and Malia and family dog, Bo.
On December 22, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama, with daughters Malia and Sasha, along with dog Bo, visited patients and staff at Children's National Medical Center.

Mrs. Obama toured the Heart and Kidney Unit, where she met patients and families, as well as doctors and nurses. Following the tour, Mrs. Obama arrived in the hospital's main atrium, where she was greeted by many patients, families, and staff.

For patients and families gathered in the hospital atrium, Mrs. Obama read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. Once she was finished, Malia and Sasha read Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner. The CAFÉ (Cultural Academy for Excellence) steel drum band played festive music and provided entertainment for the children.

Two long-time patients, Taylor Buckles, 8, from Stafford, Va., and Michael DeMaio, 13, from Severna Park, Md., escorted Mrs. Obama. Taylor has been treated in the comprehensive Spina Bifida Clinic for a tumor on her spinal cord. Michael is being treated by the Brain Tumor Institute for a brain tumor. Michael also spent his first week of life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's National.

“It's been a longstanding tradition for First Ladies to visit the nation's children's hospital and we're pleased that Mrs. Obama has continued to bring joy to our patients and staff,” said Jacqueline D. Bowens, Executive Vice President and Chief Government and External Affairs Officer at Children's National.

Mrs. Obama's visit to Children's National is a tradition of First Ladies that dates back to Bess Truman. Children's National Medical Center is located less than four miles from the White House.

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Dr. Bear Visits Capitol Hill

Dr. Bear joins Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton at the annual Capitol Hill Christmas Party.
Dr. Bear joins Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton at the annual Capitol Hill Christmas Party.
On Thursday, December 17, 2009, Children's National mascot Dr. Bear joined Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) on Capitol Hill to celebrate the holidays with children from the Washington, DC, area. The Annual Capitol Hill Christmas Party treated 250 disadvantaged children to a healthy and delicious lunch and entertainment. The children received warm down jackets and toys from Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their elves. The children were invited from a variety of community organizations, including The Children's Center, the United Planning Organization, Children of Mine, the Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center, and Noyes Elementary School.

Dr. Bear was joined by mascots Teddy from the Washington Nationals, Talon from DC United, Pollito from Pollo Campero, and dancers from the Washington Ballet's "The Nutcracker." Congresswoman Norton said, "We are bringing on Christmas for our DC kids with gusto this year, the year of the ‘Great Recession'…Our Christmas party this year must be dedicated not only to making these small tots happy for Christmas, but also to encouraging them to believe things will get better. We must continue well past Christmas to focus on the extra burdens that hard times bring to families."

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Children's National Named Among Leapfrog Group's 2009 Top Hospitals List

Children's National is one of only eight children's hospitals in the country, and the only children's hospital in the mid-Atlantic region, named to the Leapfrog Group's 2009 Top Hospitals List. In addition, Children's National is the only children's hospital to earn this recognition for the past three consecutive years.

The Leapfrog Group is comprised of leaders in health care that are focused on improving hospital practices around quality and safety. The Top Hospitals list is based on results from the group's survey, which focuses on objective measures and processes that ensure quality and safety.

Among the criteria that the Leapfrog Group uses to select top performing hospitals are processes proven to reduce errors and enhance quality:
  • Computerized ordering of medicines, tests, and procedures
  • Staffing with appropriately trained professionals in intensive care units
  • Comprehensive systems, including training all staff, to prevent, detect and manage serious errors
  • Focused efforts on preventing infections
The complete list of top hospitals, the survey methodology, and more detail about criteria can be found at

As noted by Edwin K. (Ned) Zechman, CEO and president of Children's National: “This recognition is particularly gratifying as it reaffirms what Children's National does every day to provide high-quality care in a safe environment for our patients and families. National recognition like this highlights the hard work the employees of Children's National do every day to make it among the best in the region, country, and world.”  

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Visit the BearNet Team at the NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo!

On January 16-17, 2010, Children's National Medical Center will participate in the NBC 4 Your Health & Fitness Expo with a variety of activities and booths at the Washington Convention Center. Through this Health & Fitness Expo, Children's National encourages parents and children to live a healthy lifestyle. In previous years, the Expo has attracted more than 85,000 people.

Our Legislative Advocacy Network, BearNet, will be enrolling new members at the Legislative Advocacy table. This is the fifth year that the BearNet Team will participate in the NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo. Children's National also will have important information for parents and families about food allergies, bone health, celiac disease, obesity, and sickle cell disease, in addition to fun activities for the family.

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Children's National's Bloodmobile

The Bloodmobile is a 40-foot vehicle that travels from Children's National throughout the greater Washington, DC, area to workplaces, schools, organizations, and places of worship for sponsored blood drives. Because it is sometimes difficult for donors to come to Children's National to donate blood, the Bloodmobile makes donating blood more convenient and easy by going out into the community.

The Bloodmobile helps Children's National meet the increased demand for blood to care for special pediatric patients. Because Children's is growing, it needs more blood than ever. One of the main needs is a regular supply of blood for newborns and infants undergoing heart surgery, where the need is for blood no more than five days old. Additionally, children involved in accidents need blood transfusions almost immediately, so the need for a steady supply of blood is great, given Children's role as the principal pediatric trauma center in the greater metropolitan area.  

Donating blood is simple and takes only 45 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the type of donation. Anyone age 17 or older, who weighs a minimum of 110 pounds and is in good health, can safely donate blood every two months. Because 90 percent of people need a blood donation at some point in their lives, you, or your child, could be one of them. With minimal time and effort, your organization can make a tremendous impact in the lives of hundreds of sick and injured children by sponsoring a Bloodmobile drive.  

The Children's National bloodmobile is available every Tuesday and Thursday. Blood drives can be scheduled by calling  202-476-5437  202-476-5437 . Donors can also give blood by visiting the Blood Donor Center located on the second floor of the hospital in room 2700. The Blood Donor Center's hours of operation are Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 am to 4 pm, Wednesdays from 7 am to 2:30 pm, and Fridays from 7 am to 3:30 pm. Appointments can be scheduled online or by calling 202-476-KIDS (5437). 

Below is a listing of organizations that have scheduled blood drives in 2010:

  • 50 F Street NW
  • Association of American Railroads
  • American Legacy Foundation
  • American University - School of Public Affairs
  • BDO Seidman, LLP
  • CNN Washington
  • College Park Volunteer Fire Dept
  • DC Young Health Policy Prof.
  • GapBuster Learning Center
  • GetWell Network, Inc.
  • Hart Senate Office Building
  • The Kennedy Center
  • K & L Gates Law Firm
  • Kohl's Department Store #315
  • Kohl's Department Store #325
  • Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • National Association of Home Building
  • NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo
  • National Council of Jewish Women
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • OHEV Sholom National Synagogue
  • Peace Corps - Wash DC
  • Passport Auto - Alexandria
  • Passport Auto - Marlow Heights
  • Passport Mini of Alexandria
  • Politico / WJLA 7 / Channel 8
  • Perkins Will Arch & Design
  • Reznick Group, PC
  • CNMC Tech Hill
  • TIG Global
  • University of the District of Columbia
  • University of Maryland School of Public Policy
  • US International Trade Commission
  • Vornado / Charles E. Smith
  • American Wind Energy Association
  • Williams Lea Corporate Information Systems
  • Zero to Three

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Children's National's Concussions Program

Mild traumatic brain injuries, or concussions, are a common concern for children and families in the Washington, DC, area. The Safe Concussion Outcome Recovery & Education (SCORE) Program at Children's National evaluates, monitors, and manages the care of children and adolescents with concussions. The program consults with physicians regionally and nationally, as well as scholastic and youth recreational sports programs in which children are vulnerable to injury. The SCORE program is the only program in the Maryland/Washington, DC/Virginia area that specializes in the evaluation and management of concussions in children.

Its clinics at Children's National see approximately 300 to 500 children each year. Patients are referred from emergency room physicians, primary care physicians, emergency departments, sports medicine physicians, coaches, and athletic trainers. The clinic is staffed by neuropsychologists and neuropsychology fellows who specialize in precise identification, monitoring and management of children ages 4 to 18 who have sustained a concussion.

It uses specialized state-of-the art testing techniques, including computer assisted technology sensitive in detecting concussion related symptoms. It then uses these findings to make recommendations about return to play and work, as well as necessary school accommodations.

Children's National also has a number of valuable resources about recognizing and treating a concussion in your child as well instructions for families after a concussion. A Children's National employee and nationally-recognized expert in concussions, Gerard  Gioia, PhD, recently spoke with host Kojo Nnamdi on WAMU-FM's popular Kojo Nnamdi show to discuss head injuries in youth sports.

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Children's National Annual Report 2009

The Children's National 2009 Annual Report is now available. Read about our renowned specialists and our new, family-centered facilities. To request or download a copy of the report, visit

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