Despite rapid medical advances, children in this country still face significant barriers to adequate health care, including unequal access to insurance and health care. There is great need and opportunity in our nation at this time to advocate for the advancement and prioritization of pediatric health care. Children remain vulnerable to the challenges of poverty, violence, firearms, mental health, and health care access. Social workers play an important role in assisting children and families who face health care crises by providing supportive services, advocacy, culturally grounded assessment, trauma informed care, and evidence-based interventions to improve healthcare outcomes and quality of life. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law in 2010, has increased access to pediatric health and behavioral health services. While the future of this law is uncertain at the time of this writing, social work is and will continue to be an important discipline to assist children and families in the areas of health promotion and adaptation to illness and injury.
Barbara L. Jones and Casey Walsh
Jean K. Quam
Arthur J. Altmeyer (1891–1972) was an administrator in Washington, DC from 1934 to 1953. He was a leader of social welfare policy and helped design and implement the Social Security Act of 1935.
Stephen H. Gorin and Terry Mizrahi
This entry presents an overview of national health-care reform in the United States, from its introduction into the public policy agenda at the turn of the 20th century through policy debates and legislative proposals more than a century later. Specifically, it concentrates on the programs and strategies to obtain universal coverage for health and mental-health services for all Americans at the national level, with limited success. It ends with a discussion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Special emphasis is laid on the roles of social workers and their professional organizations during this period.
Candyce S. Berger
The U.S. health care system is a pluralistic, market-based approach that incorporates various public and private payers and providers. Passage of Medicare and Medicaid, combined with rapid advances in technology and an aging population, has contributed to rising health care costs that typically increase faster than general inflation. This entry will review health care financing, exploring where the money is spent, who pays for health care, what the reimbursement mechanisms for providers are, and some issues central to the discussion of reform of health care financing. To effectively advocate health care reform, social workers must understand health care financing.
Mark J. Stern
Between 1950 and 1980, the United States developed a welfare state that in many ways was comparable to those of other advanced industrial nations. Building on its New Deal roots, the Social Security system came to provide a “social wage” to older Americans, people with disability, and the dependents of deceased workers. It created a health-care insurance system for the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. Using the tax system in innovative ways, the government encouraged the expansion of pension and health-care protection for a majority of workers and their families. By 1980, some Americans could argue that their identification as a “laggard” in the field of social provision was no longer justified.
Victoria M. Rizzo and Rebekah Kukowski
In 1965, Titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act were passed, creating Medicare and Medicaid and laying the foundation for US healthcare policy. Medicare was originally created to meet the specific medical needs of adults age 65 and older. Currently, individuals with end-stage renal disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and other disabilities may also receive Medicare, regardless of age. Medicaid was established to provide a basic level of medical care to specific categories of people who are poor, including pregnant women, children, and the aged. As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states are provided with the opportunity to expand Medicaid to close the coverage gap for public health insurance. This entry provides explanations of Medicaid and Medicare and associated social healthcare programs in the United States. An overview of significant programming developments and current issues of legislative consideration are also provided.
Lee Kaufer Frankel (1867–1931) was a chemist and developer of family casework practice. He is known for his contributions to health insurance, family services, and Jewish welfare. He was an instructor at the New York School of Philanthropy and was instrumental in establishing the Training School for Jewish Social Work.
King Davis and Hyejin Jung
This entry defines the term disparity as measurable differences between groups on a number of indices. The term disparity originated in France in the 16th century and has been used as a barometer of progress in social justice and equality in the United States. When disparity is examined across the U.S. population over a longitudinal period, it is clear that disparities continue to exist and that they distinguish groups by race, income, class, and gender. African American and Native American populations have historically ranked higher in prevalence and incidence than other populations on most indices of disparity. However, the level of adverse health and social conditions has declined for all population groups in the United States. The disparity indices include mortality rates, poor health, disease, absence of health insurance, accidents, and poverty. Max Weber’s theory of community formation is used in this entry to explain the continued presence and distribution of disparities. Other theoretical frameworks are utilized to buttress the major hypothesis by Weber that social ills tend to result from structural faults rather than individual choice. Social workers are seen as being in a position to challenge the structural origins of disparities as part of their professional commitment to social justice.