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My daughter Ellie was born with reflux, a seemingly innocent condition that many children have and outgrow. But Ellie was different. She would choke and turn blue, she would become dehydrated from not being able to keep anything down, and she had pneumonia by the time she was 10 days old. At the time, we had good insurance and saw specialists at a well-reputed children's hospital who prescribed various different medications, but none of them helped. Ellie couldn't even keep the medications down, and it would take several doses just to get the required amount in her stomach. Often times we would have to pay "out of pocket" for refills -- sometimes 3 times a month -- costing about $300 a month. Finally, after 8 months and 4 hospitalizations for pneumonia and dehydration, Ellie had surgery to correct the problem.

It only got worse from there. The surgery left our 8-month-old with a stomach capacity of less than 2 ounces. At the hospital, we had to place a feeding tube in her stomach and slowly pump special high calorie formula at an ounce an hour. Our insurance wouldn't pay for the feeding pump – saying, "it isn't our responsibility to pay for food" – and the hospital was set to discharge her. I was infuriated! I told the hospital that if they discharged her without a feeding pump I would walk down to the emergency room and come right back through. I had no way to feed my child! I could not feed her slowly enough to keep her from throwing up the formula the way the stomach pump did. Finally, as I was refusing to leave, a social worker was sent in. The social worker from the hospital said we could qualify for secondary Medi-Cal and arranged for a medical supply rental of a feeding pump, the formula, and other supplies. We used a feeding tube for 3 years. She is now 4 years old and truly amazing. Beside the tiny scars on her stomach, where her tube was removed 6 months ago, you would never know she was sick! Without Medi-Cal, I would never have been able to afford a feeding pump and the cost of the formulas. Having this insurance during the first few years of my daughter's life will continue to pay off throughout her lifetime. I attribute this program and our hard work to saving Ellie's life.

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