This blog originally appeared on the Huffington Post.
As a parent, we all understand that the health of our child takes precedence over economic concerns, geographic distance, and just about any barrier you can name. Many parents know the stress of finding the right doctor to treat a child’s illness, and the difficulties involved in traveling to see that one specific doctor. For critically ill children, the long wait to see a pediatric specialist can be devastating.
About 1 million children in California have ongoing physical, behavioral, mental, or emotional conditions that can affect their ability to function and participate in activities important to their development and, in some cases, can shorten their lives. According to a recent report published by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, these children with special healthcare needs use more healthcare services than other children and account for more than 40 percent of all healthcare cost among children nationwide, despite making up only 16 percent of the U.S. child population. Though advances in medical care have extended and improved the lives of millions of children, more than four in five of children with special healthcare needs still fail to receive one or more basic aspects of quality healthcare, statewide and nationally.