Despite all his medical complications and the exhausting days of surgeries and treatments he’s endured, 3-year-old Chase Flaherty’s eyes open wide and he flashes a smile when his favorite song, Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” is within earshot.
Now his family is hoping the legislators they meet in Washington, D.C., are equally wide-eyed and delighted when they hear Chase’s story and the need to improve care for children with medical complexity who are covered by Medicaid.
Chase and his parents were chosen to represent Akron Children’s Hospital as part of the Children’s Hospital Association’s Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day June 15-16.
While there, the Flaherty family is encouraging support for the Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act of 2015 (ACE Kids Act of 2015 – S. 298, H.R. 546). Key members of the Ohio Congressional delegation are already supporting this legislation, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13).
The youngest of 5 children for Ericka and Kirk Flaherty of Youngstown, Chase was born at 27 weeks, and spent his first 4 months and 1 day in Akron Children’s neonatal intensive care unit.
In the NICU, he battled numerous complications stemming from his premature birth, including a brain bleed.
Since then, he’s been in and out of the hospital receiving treatment for PDA, chronic pneumonia and lung disease, cerebral palsy, asthma, eye surgery, blood transfusions, anemia, a seizure, leg braces and more.
“Chase has a lot of strength in him,” Ericka said. “He will conquer an obstacle only to have another one around the corner, but he’s a fighter and he’s never given up on his battles.”
Erica is glad her son has Akron Children’s Hospital to care for him.
“They know his history, they answer all my questions and they have all the resources he needs for his care,” she said. “Even though he’s my child, the doctors and staff look out for his best interests as if he’s one of their own.”
The Flahertys are also fortunate to have healthcare coverage through Medicaid that Chase, and other families facing similar circumstances, needs for his care.
“We’re hoping Congress will continue to support Medicaid,” Erica said. “It’s horrible just having a sick child, but not being able to pay for what they need would just be devastating.”
Of the nation’s 78 million children, about 3 million are medically complex, and of that population, 2 million rely on Medicaid for access to multiple specialists, therapists and hospitals.
The ACE Kids Act of 2015 would save Medicaid an estimated $13 billion over 10 years via the networks. The bill has bipartisan support of nearly 20 senators and more than 120 representatives.