Padilla, Cárdenas Announce Legislation to Help with Children’s Hospital Patient Surge During COVID-19

The Pediatric Access to Critical Healthcare (PATCH) Act will keep children safe by providing funding to improve pediatric capacity and support workforce retention.

WASHINGTON, D.C — This week, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and Congressman Tony Cárdenas (both D-Calif.) announced the Pediatric Access to Critical Healthcare (PATCH) Act to support and bolster the nation’s vital pediatric healthcare infrastructure. The resurgence of COVID-19 and increased patient visits has placed major strains on the capacity of children’s hospitals. The PATCH Act will help ensure that the pediatric safety net for children and adolescents remains strong for all families. 

“Pediatric hospitals are being stretched thin as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic—and they deserve our support,” said Senator Padilla. “This bill will deliver needed resources to help expand the capacity of our pediatric hospitals and help our most vulnerable children receive access to life-saving care.”

“Children’s hospitals across the country are suffering from a capacity crisis, and they need our help,” said Congressman Cárdenas. “As a grandfather, I know how instrumental pediatric doctors and nurses are to caring for our kids when they fall ill. That’s why I’m fighting to ensure they have the resources they need to keep America’s children healthy and safe. The PATCH Act will deliver desperately needed relief and help ensure pediatric hospitals continue to meet the needs of every family during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The PATCH Act is endorsed by the Children’s Hospital Association.

“We thank Representative Cárdenas and Senator Padilla for their swift response to the escalating need for enhanced pediatric critical care capacity,” said Mark Wietecha, CEO of Children’s Hospital Association. “Across the country, children’s hospitals are struggling to meet the demand for treatment for Covid-19, severe respiratory illnesses and mental and behavioral health conditions among children and youth. The Pediatric Access to Critical Healthcare (PATCH) Act is a vital piece of legislation for children’s hospitals and the millions of families we serve.”

“California’s children’s hospitals are grateful to Congressman Cárdenas and Senator Padilla for introducing the Pediatric Access to Critical Healthcare (PATCH) Act, which will help increase pediatric health care capacity,”  said Ann-Louise Kuhns, President and CEO of California Children’s Hospital Association. “California’s children’s hospitals serve a high volume of Medicaid patients, provide life-saving treatments to the most medically complex children, and are the backbone of pediatric specialty care in the state.  This legislation will help to ensure that these essential pediatric safety net providers can add critical care and mental health capacity to meet the growing needs of California’s children.” 

“As a leading children’s hospital in California and the U.S., we applaud the introduction of this legislation, which is crucial to the health and wellbeing of children everywhere,” said Paul S. Viviano, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “This bill would provide vital resources that would allow children’s hospitals to expand critical care capacity to treat the sickest and most vulnerable in our community with the specialized pediatric care that they need and deserve.”

The PATCH Act provides $6 billion over 10 years to increase pediatric healthcare capacity and improve dedicated children’s hospitals and pediatric preparedness response. These funds will prioritize increased critical care capacity and telehealth technology, as well as address attentive care workforce shortages, particularly for high Medicaid providers who serve child populations with the greatest health disparities. Matching requirements supporting contributions from the private sector will double the impact of this federal investment, greatly increasing pediatric health care capacity for all children across the country.

Children represent over 20 percent of the nation’s population and have unique health needs from adults. As a result, pediatric hospital facilities, which are at the frontline of care for children, require separate investments to provide appropriate treatment and care. As the number of COVID-19 infections among children rises, cases of respiratory illnesses surge and the pandemic continues to impact children’s mental health, pediatric hospitals’ funding mechanisms have not kept up with the level of need.

The PATCH Act, H.R. 5131, is co-sponsored by Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40).