Letter: Vt. Program Provides Critical Help

To the Editor:

Thank you for publishing the excellent VtDigger story about the Shumlin administration’s plan to gut the Children with Special Health Needs program and, with it, a critical source of assistance to families that face the financial and logistical burdens of chronic illnesses. As the parent of a child with such an illness, cystic fibrosis, I find this news both sad and bewildering.

In the case of cystic fibrosis, a program that helps families with expenses that insurance won’t reimburse is the difference between excellent care and mediocre care — which, in turn, is the difference between a reasonably healthy, long life and one that is brief and full of hospital stays (which, by the way, are ultimately far more expensive to the public than is paying for assistance provided by the Children with Special Health Needs program). According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, in 2010 it cost $88,000 a year to keep a child with cystic fibrosis healthy — and, believe me, a giant chunk of that is not covered by anyone’s health insurance plan.

Other chronic illnesses, especially those that cause cognitive impairment and/or limited mobility, are even more challenging for families to confront. That the Shumlin administration, which has made single-payer universal health coverage its central objective, has decided to throw kids with chronic illness under the bus like this is both unconscionable and unfathomable.

Donald M. Kreis