‘CHIP Saved US’
Mother talks importance of Children’s Health Insurance Program
Lynn Jankowiak wonders where her son Michael would be without the benefits provided by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Michael, who is 24 now, stopped moving his extremities at the age of 18 months and was diagnosed with a debilitating form of cerebral palsy.
Lynn describes her first few months after she learned Michael had cerebral palsy as “fuzzy.” She lived in a terrified blur of emotions and cried for the first year after learning of his diagnosis.
But through her tears Lynn kept her resolve, beginning with one decision – Michael would be transferred from the family home in Abilene to Fort Worth to be treated by Cook Children’s. They then moved to Fort Worth to stay closer to Cook Children’s.
“To see your baby crawling, trying to learn to walk and then all of a sudden he’s not moving, was horrible,” Lynn said. “We insisted he be transferred. If he had not gotten transferred Michael would not be alive. I believe that with all my heart. I would not go anywhere else.”
The first month he stayed in the Pediatric ICU. Since then Michael's been seen by a plethora of specialties at Cook Children's, including Infectious Disease, Neurosciences, the Heart Center, Radiology, Surgery and Rehabilitation Services for issues ranging from pneumonia to cerebral palsy.
Lynn stopped working to stay home with Michael and her early attempts to get her son on Medicaid were declined.
“We got a letter that said because Medicaid had turned us down he was automatically approved for CHIP. I believe we were waiting to get on [Medically Dependent Children Program (MDCP)]. Considering Michael’s extensive needs (medications, tube feeding supplies and everything else), CHIP saved us,” Lynn said. “There were prescription co-pays but they were very reasonable, and we were able to continue seeing doctors at Cook Children’s.”
Without CHIP, Michael may not have received the care he needed to cover the multiple specialties he required as a young child.
Currently, CHIP funding expired almost 100 days ago. While Congress recently provided temporary funding to the United States, many are likely to run out of funds and will send termination notices in the coming weeks to children’s hospital patients and others who have CHIP.
To learn more how you can help #SaveCHIP and “Speak Now For Kids”, visit this site to learn more.
“It was a long time ago when we needed CHIP,” Lynn said. “I do remember feeling so proud that Texas would never let a child go uninsured. Clearly things have changed. It took about five years for Michael to get on MDCP and then at that time, he became eligible for Medicaid. I am not sure I would have been able to keep Michael alive without CHIP.”
To learn more about Michael’s story, click here.