Medicaid Matters for Kids Month -- A Mom's View
Throughout the month of March, Speak Now for Kids is celebrating Medicaid Matters for Kids Month with posts highlighting the importance of Medicaid in children’s access to health care.
Today’s post was written by Deirdre, a mother of 4.
Caring for a child with special health needs was nothing new for me. I adopted Armere 22 years ago from a pediatric nursing home. He was born at 26 weeks gestation and was dependent on a ventilator to breathe. At the time I was single and working at Children’s Specialized Hospital while going to nursing school part time. I married my husband in 2001 and our family grew when we adopted another son, Jebrill, who is on the autism spectrum. Three short years later we welcomed our first biological daughter, Alyssa; 11 months later we welcomed a second daughter, Nicole. Having two girls so close in age, it was clear that Alyssa’s speech was delayed and her muscle tone low when compared to her younger sister. With two more children, we continued to rely heavily on our health insurance for specialty pediatric services, including frequent therapy visits, doctor visits and several prescription medications.
When the kids were 20, 12, 9 and 8 years old, we went through a very tough time of transition as my husband and I decided to separate and eventually divorce. It was hard for the entire family, but I knew I was making the best decision for my children. The process of the actual divorce was rocky at times. A low point was when, at a routine doctor’s visit for flu shots, I was informed by the office that that my children were uninsured.
My world stopped.
What would I do? How would I cover all of the medical expenses I knew my children would need? I only work part time and don’t have health insurance.
I immediately thought of NJ Family Care, the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With the support of my family and care team at Children’s Specialized Hospital, I applied and, in about a month, all of my children were fully covered. That coverage was tested when Nicole, my youngest, needed immediate psychological intervention.
In the fall of 2012, our family was catastrophically impacted by Super Storm Sandy. We lived in Toms River and our home flooded with five feet of water and we lost everything. The stress of the situation impacted Nicole the most and she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. She needed immediate intervention, began seeing a specialist and was placed on a medication regimen.
The impact of the divorce, Super Storm Sandy and losing our home put our family in a dire financial situation and solidified my reliance on CHIP to help my children thrive. Without CHIP, I know for a fact my children wouldn't have been able to see the specialty pediatricians who have been following them since they were very young; Alyssa wouldn't have been able to receive the therapy she needed to stay strong and active; and I wouldn't have be able to afford the $1,875 in prescriptions my children take monthly.
Our circumstances have greatly improved and we’re happy to share that we will be moving into our new home in May and starting a new beginning together. All of the kids are thriving in school and we have a family vacation planed, a cruise to the Caribbean in September.
With your help, Congress can extend federal funding for CHIP and ensure eligible children remain enrolled in affordable health coverage. Ask your U.S. senators and representatives to extend CHIP as soon as possible!