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Dingell: Repealing the Affordable Care Act is bad for Michigan children

David Sanchez and his son Benicio, who has Autism Spectrum Disoder.
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
David Sanchez and his son Benicio, who has autism spectrum disoder. The type of care Benicio gets might be unaffordable if the proposed Republican healthcare plan passes.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell spoke to some Michigan parents of children with special needs today about what a future without the Affordable Care Act would be like.

More specifically, Dingell talked about the possibility of those families losing Medicaid if the Senate Republican healthcare bill is passed.

Dingell says some families are choosing between getting their child the right care or getting treatment they know is affordable.

“People are having to make these gut wrenching decisions, and it’s not right. And I don’t think people realize that,” Dingell said.

She also stressed that healthcare is not a partisan issue, despite being very critical of the proposed Republican healthcare plan.

“I don’t think this should be some political argument, this issue is about families and children,” she said.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 50 percent of children in the state received health coverage through Medicaid at some point last year.

Last year 53,314 babies were delivered to women on Medicaid. That’s about 46 percent of births in 2016.

Ryan Bates is the father of a baby named James who was born 14 weeks premature. James has suffered health complications like hearing loss and a weakened immune system.

Bates is concerned about his son’s care going past the lifetime limits for care set by some insurance companies.

“My son is still a baby and has already gotten nearly $1.5 million in care,” Bates said.

Ryan Bates with his wife Elizabeth Campbell and their son James Bates.
Credit Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Ryan Bates with his wife Elizabeth Campbell and their son James Bates. James was born 14 weeks early and suffered from hearing loss.

A lifetime limit means no amount of care past $1 million, or in some cases $2 million, would be covered by health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act did away with lifetime limits in most states, but there is no guarantee a replacement plan would do the same.

“I’m worried about my son, but also other families too. We met several other families in the hospital that will have it worse than us without the Affordable Care Act’s protections,” Bates said.

David Sanchez is the father of a four-year old boy named Benicio, who is on the autism spectrum.

Because Benicio is autistic, he goes to intensive one-on-one therapy sessions to help him pick up communication and social skills.

“Before, he had trouble communicating to me if he wanted something like a juice or a toy. It was hard for me because as his father, I could see that he was frustrated that I couldn’t understand what he was trying to tell me,” Sanchez said.

He says his son’s therapy costs about $125 an hour.

“The MI Child, the Medicare funding picks that up, and Benicio has benefited from that greatly,” Sanchez said.

MI Child is a state Medicaid program to help uninsured children receive health coverage. But those dollars are at risk under the proposed Republican health care plan.

Republicans say the plan is fiscally responsible and would provide a transition period for states like Michigan.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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