As you may have heard, late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel took to social media last weekend to share an update on his now 3-month-old son, Billy, who was born with a congenital heart defect.
In the Instagram post, he says, “Billy is three months old today and doing great. Thanks for all your love & support and please remind your Congresspeople that every kid deserves the care Billy got.”
A different story
One state away, in Glendale, Arizona, there is a mom of two young children who is wondering if lawmakers are listening — to Kimmel or anyone else.
Brianna Huey is the mother of two chronically ill children.
Like Kimmel, she knows what it is like to watch her child suffer.
Huey’s son, Eastahn, 7, and daughter Melianna, 3 — were born with multiple illnesses.
Eastahn has sickle-cell anemia, asthma and multiple allergies, while Melianna has sensory disturbance, dyspaghia (difficulty in swallowing), acid reflux, a laryngeal nodule and asthma.
Unlike Kimmel, Huey is a woman of meager means.
She previously worked as a caregiver, but has developed chronic pain and other illnesses, and now mostly lives off Social Security.
She’s a single mom who relies on Arizona’s state Medicaid program for health care coverage for her children.
Deep cuts to Medicaid?
She’s not alone.
In April, the U.S. government said that half of Medicaid and CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) enrollees were kids under the age of 18.
That’s 35 million people.
Thirty-five million CHILDREN.
Those thirty-five million kids could be at risk for losing some or all of their health benefits if the Senate health care bill — which calls for deep cuts to the Medicaid program — is passed.
The Senate could vote as early as Tuesday.
‘It shouldn’t matter how much money you make’
Huey has to feed Melianna every day with a tube. Doctors are waiting for Melianna’s reflux to be less severe before performing surgery.
Kimmel’s son had open-heart surgery at three days old and will likely need additional surgery before he’s six months old.
In revealing Billy’s health struggles, Kimmel said:
“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on.”
In Arizona, Huey agrees. She’s OK with losing health insurance for herself, but not her two children.
“I am pretty much saying that (without health care), I am going to lose my kids,” she told The Arizona Republic. “And no parent wants to think that.”