By Kate Hogan Green

Ever since our second daughter, Lorelei, was born in 2014, people have been offering help: If there is anything we can do, let us know.  Lorelei was born with Down syndrome and duodenal atresia (intestinal blockage). Immediately after she was delivered, she was whisked away to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for surgery to repair the blocked intestine. She spent her first weeks of life in the NICU.  Since then, Lorelei has had more scary medical diagnoses, needed additional surgeries, hospital stays, and therapies. Though the bills were high ($120,000 for one stay and that was just for the cost for the room!), we have good insurance and are covered. We were OK, so while I appreciated the many kind offers, I didn’t reach out for help.

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In the spring of 2016, things were going pretty well for us until I started to lose weight and had several bouts of gastroenteritis. An ultrasound revealed Stage 2 renal cancer. My symptoms were unrelated; it was just a stomach bug. That ultrasound saved my life. What if I did not have the insurance to cover it? 

My left kidney was removed, and though the recovery was rough, I was lucky that no chemo or radiation was necessary. Once again, kind offers of help poured in. 

“If there is anything we can do, please let us know.”

We had out-of-pocket expenses but didn’t have to risk losing our home to pay for the surgery. I worried about leaving my children without a mother, but I received the life-saving medical care I needed. We had good insurance and I could take care of myself; so while I appreciated the kind offers, I didn’t reach out for help.

In the winter of 2017,  we discovered that Lorelei had a life-threatening third-degree heart block and needed a pacemaker. As Lorelei faced heart surgery and our family again faced a “new normal,” more kind offers of help poured in.  

“If there is anything we can do, please let us know.”

Lorelei survived, and thanks to our insurance, we didn’t worry about the cost of heart surgery or the hospital stay. She was going to be OK. While I appreciated the kind offers, I didn’t reach out for help. 

In the winter of 2018, Lorelei developed a cough that would not subside. Her doctor sent us to the ER and she was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). After a stay in the PICU, we celebrated her 4th birthday with nurses and doctors at her bedside. Fortunately, Lorelei recovered and we were able to go home just a few days later. Until, two weeks later, when she was back in the hospital with pneumonia. Again, our friends and family stood by us.

“If there is anything we can do, please let us know.”

With an additional diagnosis of asthma, I no longer sleep well during cold and flu season and as you can imagine, the risks of COVID-19 deeply frighten me. When Lorelei has a cough for more than a couple of days, she can go to the doctor. She can also see the other specialists and get the therapy, medications, medical equipment and additional surgeries she needs. 

Woven in between all the frightening diagnoses and unexpected hospitalizations are moments of joy, fun and laughter. We are blessed with an abundance of love and fortune. Lorelei and I have both been saved by medical science and dedicated physicians. Thanks to my job, we have access to affordable and necessary healthcare coverage. We have bills, but for now, we can afford to pay them. We have been able to focus on our family and have not needed to ask for help.

The Affordable Care Act, which protects people with pre-existing conditions – like myself and Lorelei – from being denied or charged more for coverage, or even completely cut from care by a lifetime max, is under threat. Programs like Medicaid and Medicare are targeted for drastic cuts. I could lose the ability to care for myself and my family. 

So yes, there is something you can do: Vote!

I need you to vote for the candidate who will ensure ALL people have affordable and appropriate healthcare coverage. Our story is not an exception. There are too many families like ours who will lose everything, including our lives if protections under the ACA are stripped away.

We need you to vote because all of our lives depend on it. 

Kate Hogan Green is the mother of two daughters and lives for moments alone in her garden… even though she doesn’t even like gardening that much.

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