In the Blink of an Eye
A Message from Larry Levine, President & CEO of Blythedale Children's Hospital
A small group of US Senators is writing a healthcare bill that may resemble in many ways the American Health Care Act (AHCA) recently passed in the House. It, too, will likely include massive cuts to Medicaid, the program that provides healthcare coverage for 34 million of our nation's children. With these cuts, eligibility and coverage would be vastly reduced.
But 34 million is just a number, one so huge it is hard to grasp. So let me share the story of one little girl, named Amanda, and her family, a story we in the world of children's hospitals see repeated day after day.
Amanda's mother sits silently in the hospital waiting room, heart thumping, trying to slow her breathing, praying between breaths. Her Amanda, her sweet, playful seven-year-old daughter, has suffered a major fall, and is in surgery for a traumatic brain injury. This morning she kissed Amanda as she boarded the school bus, and promised to take her shopping for ballet shoes after school. And now Amanda is in a coma, and all her mother Emma can do is pray: please give my daughter back to me.
Fast forward a month. Emma sits with a social worker outside her daughter's hospital room, trying once more to catch her breath, because in this split second, her world has turned upside down once again. Their insurance will cover Amanda's testing, surgery and care in the ICU. But the little girl who emerged from life-saving surgery cannot walk or talk. Amanda needs several months of intensive in-patient rehabilitation, and many more months of outpatient therapy, to relearn how to walk and talk, to re-master all the activities of a seven-year-old’s life and return to being the happy, capable child she once was. The prognosis is good. But the social worker has just told Emma that their private insurance benefits have run out.
What now? A thousand thoughts race through her head. Sell the house, the car? Both she and her husband already work full-time…Take on second jobs? Will that even cover it? How can they afford the rehabilitation Amanda needs? How can they afford to give their daughter back her life?
"No, you don't understand--it's okay," the social worker says. "You can go on Medicaid."
In the blink of an eye, a universe can turn upside down for middle-class families like Amanda's, whose lives are about soccer games and ballet classes, who have always been fully insured--but who are forced to live every parent's nightmare...and who reach the limits of their insurance coverage.
Contrary to popular perception, Medicaid does not only cover the poor. It is also a lifeline for middle class Americans.
Perhaps you or someone you know, a neighbor, a relative or a friend, has had a child's life change in the blink of an eye, through a car accident, a brain tumor, diagnosis of a genetic mutation. It is Medicaid that guarantees a house will not have to be sold, savings depleted, a family's financial life turned upside down and forced into bankruptcy, to attempt to pay for the care their child needs.
Contact your Senators. Forward this blog to friends and family in other states, and ask them to contact their Senators too, because we need every voice to be heard. Silence will allow the Senate to get to 50 votes to pass a healthcare bill that will cut Medicaid and hurt children and families.
Do it today. Because no one - including 50 Senators - has the right to play Russian roulette with our children’s health and our family’s lives.
About Blythedale Children’s Hospital
As New York’s only freestanding, specialty children’s hospital, Blythedale is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of children with medical complexity, not only through superb multi-disciplinary patient care, but also through teaching, research, and advocacy programs. Blythedale’s board-certified physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff (social workers, respiratory therapists, clinical pharmacists, Child Life specialists, etc.) and New York State’s largest hospital-based pediatric therapy department work together to provide intensive and innovative multi-disciplinary clinical and therapeutic care to help children achieve their medical and rehabilitative goals for independent living, and return to their communities. Blythedale is also the only Hospital in New York State with its own, on-site public school district.
For more information about Blythedale Children’s Hospital, visit www.blythedale.org.