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Health Reform and Child Health: Progress, Cautions, and Future Directions


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Taryn W. Morrissey, Department of Public Administration and Policy, School of Public Affairs, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016; e-mail:


Abstract— The Affordable Care Act (ACA) represents a historic legislative advance in social policy that will dramatically change Americans’ access to health insurance and health-care services. Although nonelderly adults stand to reap the greatest benefits in coverage and access to health care, children will also benefit from improvements in health insurance and health-care quality. The move to eliminate individual provisions or “repeal and replace” the ACA threatens this progress. Rather, this article argues that the benefits provided by the ACA lay the foundation for addressing the major issues facing children’s health: uninsurance, underinsurance, subpar health-care quality, and growing rates of obesity and chronic disease. It describes the major provisions in the ACA that will address these issues and highlights concerns for the law’s implementation and directions for future child health research and policy.