Alleviating the Burden


April 26, 2017

Laura Greenwald and Claudia Alvarado both have the same fear: a new and even worse health care repeal proposal by Republican leaders will destroy the safety net that helped their children get the medical equipment and care they need to thrive.

In March, House Speaker Paul Ryan was unable to secure the votes needed to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would not only have repealed major portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but would also have capped and cut Medicaid which provides critical health coverage to more than half of all California children. But now, in an effort to secure a political win, the AHCA has been dusted off and negotiations are underway to make the bill even worse in the search for additional Republican supporters. The latest changes would gut additional ACA protections including the prohibition of discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. If this proposal is passed, families like those of Laura and Claudia would suffer, as would many millions of others.

Laura's 9-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy. Claudia's son, whose 3, was born with encephalocele and also suffers from chronic lung disease, tracheomalacia and laryngomalacia – all conditions that prevent normal air flow.

Although the mothers have primary health coverage for their families, Medi-Cal serves as a backup. But both agree that this secondary coverage has been a lifeline for their children. Medi-Cal has saved both families thousands of dollars by covering copays, medical equipment and services that their primary providers deny. Most recently, Medi-Cal covered a much needed "stander" for Christopher, a medical device that helps him stand and strengthen his muscle tone. For Laura, it pays for pull-up diapers and in the past, Ayla's feeding tube, which had to be replaced every three months, as well as a licensed vocational nurse who came to their home five days a week for six hours a day.

"The quality of life is already so challenging," said Laura, who lives in Valencia with Ayla and her 13-year-old son. "It's hard on a marriage, on siblings. Medi-Cal definitely helps. It helps alleviate stress and anxiety; it allows us to spend money on other things for her, like tutoring. It helps alleviate the burden of a lot of the costs."

Claudia resides in Santa Clarita and currently utilizes the home nursing support for Christopher, a service she calls "invaluable" to his progress and development and one which she could not afford without Medi-Cal. His condition also calls for many specialists visits and at least a couple of hospitalizations every year, she added.

"Losing Medi-Cal coverage is detrimental to our family as it provides benefits that most private insurance policies simply do not, and it guarantees that there will be coverage for Christopher to access the level of care he requires in order to live," Claudia said.