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One story that paints an all too familiar portrait for Texas families is that of the McCuistions from central Texas. Their experience echoes the unacceptable, yet increasingly common, story of a model American family struggling to make ends meet in the economic recession. Vicki and her husband work around the clock between their small family business and Vicki's 40+ hours a week at a local non-profit. Each of their three daughters has big dreams and is already embracing their parents' hard work ethic: they make straight A’s, run cross-country, work at their local church, and do mission work during summers.
Unfortunately, the girls were uninsured for parts of 2011 when their health coverage
through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) terminated.
This caused the McCuistions significant stress to learn that their efforts to bring home a little extra pay during these hard times put them just $68 over the monthly limit to re-qualify for CHIP. “I had to ask my company to withdraw the $75 a month allowance they gave me to cover my own health insurance. This put our income back down below the limit.”
Eventhough Vicki lost coverage for herself, the family was able to requalify for coverage for their children. But, while the girls were uninsured they missed needed doctor visits because they could not afford the costly out of pocket expenses. The girls were also unable to participate in the kinds of school activities they enjoyed and that so many take for granted. “You have not had to tell your child, no, you cannot follow your dreams, because we can’t afford for you to get hurt.”
Vicki recently wrote a letter to her elected officials in which she urged them to protect vital safety-net programs for kids like CHIP and Medicaid, which help millions of children in Texas, and across the nation, to see a doctor when they need to. She has also urged her representatives to make balanced budget decisions that keep children a priority. She hopes others will do the same.
For now, the McCuistions are not alone. There are 1.3 million uninsured children in Texas, and more than 1.75 million Texas children living in poverty. Parents face tough decisions everyday on how to best provide for their children's wellbeing and ongoing needs.
in another year or so when the Affordable Care Act is fully
implemented, parents will no longer be faced with the difficult decision
of having to choose between covering themselves or their children.
There will be a range
of affordable options available through the Exchange. During the month
of November, we are reminded how thankful we are for the peace of mind
that CHIP, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act provide to families
Join parents and other moms like Vicki to let your voice be heard in the halls of Congress. Share your story or engage with us on Facebook or Twitter to join the ongoing conversation for kids health.