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First, I want to thank MomsRising for allowing me space on your blog. I am a mom of two great kids, Madeline (4) and Eli (19 months). I want to share why I am passionate about why health reform needs to work for kids and how I got involved in the Speak Now for Kids campaign.

When my daughter was 10 months old, she was diagnosed with four congenital heart defects that basically put her heart into failure. Had she been born three years prior, Madeline would not have survived. As you can imagine, it felt as if our world was crashing down. We had no idea what to expect or the details of Madeline’s illness that threatened her life. Thanks to the rapid advancement of cardiac care and our children’s hospital, Madeline was able to undergo open heart surgery to repair a large hole in her heart. Today I consider myself a bit of an expert navigator of the health care system. I could easily conduct a tour of our wonderful hospital, Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center. I know the ins and outs of processing various insurance claims, from planned hospital admissions to reimbursing the costs of blood work sent to an out-of-network lab. I know much more than I ever thought I could know about congenital heart defects.

Before March 13, 2006, Madeline hadn’t had as much as ear infection, never been on antibiotics . . . we thought she was perfectly healthy! My point is that, we hadn’t needed much health care. Boy, do we have a vested interest now! The first six months of our journey, she was hospitalized a few times and visited the doctor frequently. We were on pins and needles waiting to be told something else was wrong. With all that emotional instability, it was grounding to know that we had an extraordinary hospital 15 minutes from our house. It was comforting to have insurance that would cover anything Madeline needed including her four daily medications. We didn’t have to worry about quality of care, access to care or the cost of care.

We want to make sure that ALL children have access to health care and have coverage to pay for it. We are deeply concerned about insurance caps. For children with chronic conditions, hospitalizations, medication costs and regular tests add up quickly. What would Madeline do if she reached her $1 million cap before she turns 18? Could she still get the same caliber of health care she has been receiving? What will happen when she is off our family’s insurance? With a pre-existing condition, will she be able to find coverage?

Children’s medical treatment is unique (this is a good thing). Medications effect growing bodies differently than adults, procedures and treatments often impact attention and the ability to learn, and equipment needs to be specifically sized. Children cannot be lumped in with adults. We want to make sure lawmakers remember children when they debate health care reform ideas. Children need us to be their advocates – they can’t do it themselves!

My family’s story explains why health care reform matters to me. Please, join me in voicing your concerns to lawmakers about children in the health care reform initiative. You don’t have to have a story like my family’s to have a voice or an opinion. You never know when your child will need more extensive health care – you’ll want it if you need it. And well children need health care also. We want to maintain that wellness!

I was able to voice my opinion quickly and easily through Together we can tell legislators what we -- their constituents -- care about. Please do it today . . . it only takes a few seconds and can help all of our kids.

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