For the past 30 years, I have advocated to make our region, state, and country a better place for children. I do it for my daughters, and I do it because ensuring all our children are healthy is vital to our state’s well-being.
In my time as an elected official, I consistently pushed for excellence in education, and today, as president of Children Now, I work to connect the dots on critical issues for children — from access to early education to healing childhood trauma. There are many variables that go into raising kids so they can be the best version of themselves, but health is the foundation.
This November, Proposition 4, the Children’s Hospital Bond, will be on the ballot, and I urge Californians to vote yes. California’s 13 children’s hospitals treat over 2 million young people each year, no matter their family income. The services these hospitals provide are life-saving and life-changing. There is no substitute for good health, which is why we as voters must make the investment to ensure that our state’s children’s hospitals have the resources required to keep up with advances in pediatric medical technology, and to meet the growing demands for care.
The Bay Area is home to three top-ranked children’s hospitals — UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland, and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. All three hospitals are consistently ranked among the best in the nation for pediatric care by US News & World Report. In the most recent rankings, each hospital scored well in all 10 pediatric specialties.
The capabilities of our three area children’s hospitals and the ten additional children’s hospitals in the state are the product of a continued commitment to providing the most effective, cutting-edge treatment tailored for young people. Those investments have real impacts for families in our state.
Prop 4 funds will allow Packard Children’s Hospital, UCSF Benioff in San Francisco, and Children’s Hospital Oakland to add more beds to treat more patients, and to modernize old facilities. Specifically, both Packard Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Oakland intend to upgrade their neonatal intensive care units, Children’s Hospital Oakland will be able to make seismic upgrades to parts of the hospital that are a century old, and UCSF Benioff Children’s in San Francisco will expand outpatient clinics and add inpatient beds to meet growing demand.
As medical technology improves and pediatric care becomes more specialized, children from across the state are being referred to California children’s hospitals like Packard Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Oakland. In addition to the rise in referrals, two-thirds of patients at California children’s hospitals are covered by Medi-Cal, which doesn’t pay for infrastructure updates. Every year, California children’s hospitals spend between $30 and $50 million on necessary infrastructure projects; Prop 4 funding will fill the gap so the hospitals can continue to focus on what matters most — healing young people who come through their doors.
California children’s hospitals perform a vast majority of the pediatric surgeries and life-saving treatments in our state. The care they provide is the backbone of our state’s pediatric health care infrastructure, and as voters, it is wise for us to shore up that infrastructure for the next decade.
There is no substitute for good health, especially not when it comes to the health of our children. Almost a quarter of the people in our state are under age 18, and they require care tailored for their needs. Fortunately, children’s hospitals in the Bay Area and throughout the state are ahead of the curve in providing the specialized, world-class care young people deserve. It is imperative that we vote Yes on Prop 4 in November so that our state can continue to provide quality pediatric care to every child who needs it.
Ted Lempert is President of the national research and advocacy organization, Children Now, and a lecturer in Political Science at UC Berkeley. Lempert was the founding CEO and co-founder of the California education reform organization, EdVoice. Lempert represented San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties in the California State Assembly from 1996-2000, and from 1988-1992. He also served on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, where he was President of the Board in 1995.