Despite all his medical complications and the exhausting days of surgeries and treatments he’s endured, three 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 hopes the legislators they met in Washington, D.C., in June were equally wide-eyed and delighted when they heard 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 will urge 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 five children for Ericka and Kirk Flaherty of Youngstown, Chase was born at 27 weeks, and spent his first four months and one day in the Akron Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit. While there 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 Flaherty 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.
“He’s truly a miracle with all he’s gone through, and he’s so fortunate Akron Children’s Hospital is there for him. They know his history, they answer all my questions and they have all the resources he needs for his care. 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 the health care coverage through Medicaid that Chase, and other families facing similar circumstances, needs for his care.
“We’re hoping Congress will continue to support Medicaid. It’s horrible just having a sick child, but not being able to pay for what they need would just be devastating,” Erika Flaherty said.
Of the nation’s 78 million children, approximately 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 is supported by a bipartisan group of nearly 20 senators and more than 120 representatives.
Hear more about Chase’s story – and those of other patients in the Mahoning Valley – by tuning in to the 7th annual Miracles and Promises Radiothon, broadcast live from Akron Children’s Beeghly campus on Mix 98.9 or 570 WKBN Sept. 23 – 25. Click here to support the Miracles and Promises Radiothon. https://www.akronchildrens.org/pages/Have-a-Heart-Do-Your-Part-Radiothon.html