It is imperative that Alaska's Denali Kid Care program be funded to at least 175%-200% of the poverty level. Decreasing the qualifying cutoff level from 200% to 155% of the poverty level has already dramatically limited travel and access to needed care for many pediatric patients here.
As a pediatrician at YKHC (Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation) in Bethel, Alaska, I am deeply concerned about the decreased funding of Denali Kid Care. I have watched the erosion of funding and the increased difficulty in applying and qualifying for coverage become a significant barrier to needed care for the children of our region. Parents often cannot afford to travel to Bethel from their remote villages, and do not have the money to stay in a local hotel/hostel in town while their kids are evaluated and treated.
The Yukon Kuskokwim Delta Region has more than 25,000 people. Over 50% of the population is under 18 years of age. The people of this region have the lowest per capita income in the US. The majority of patients live in villages scattered throughout an area the size of Oregon. Parents rarely have the funds to pay for the travel to get their children to needed medical care at neighboring village subregional clinics such as YKHC's regional center in Bethel, or in Anchorage.
K. Jane McClure, MDPediatrics YKHCBethel, Alaska