Congenital heart disease is a pre existing condition which concerns Jimmy Kimmel and me

This week has been emotional for people who care about health care. There are many reasons why it's been emotional but one is because of the video Jimmy Kimmel posted about his son and his heart disease. His son is not alone. Many Americans have pre exisiting conditions, I would imagine nearly everyone over 40 has something. We all worry about a different issues and we have people with whom we can connect over these worries. Congenital heart disease is a pre exisiting condition which concerns Jimmy Kimmel and me.

Jimmy Kimmel's son was born after a normal pregnancy and a worry free delivery. So was my son Matthew.

After Billy was born all seemed just fine. Then, a nurse noticed that the newborn had a heart murmur. So did my son Matthew.

The Kimmel baby was assessed by cardiac specialists, had tests done and transferred to better equipped hospital. My son Matthew did these exact same steps.

The newborn underwent open heart surgery to correct the immediate problem. More surgeries will be needed. My son Matthew was operated on as well.

Mr. Kimmel was worried about his child, prayed for him and had insurance to pay for his son's medical needs. My son Matthew received all of that as well.

mathews012Billy survived his surgery and will live and grow. My son Matthew died on the operating table.

Here are his pictures which I have never shared outside my family before partly because I never got to hold him, it was something I had just for me.  I share them now because it's time. I hope that by sharing them, Matthew can help affect some change by making voters see that this issue is personal. mathews013

Jimmy Kimmel worries that without the ACA protection from insurance denial of pre existing conditions, his son will not be covered in the future. Had my son lived, he would have been denied coverage after any break in continuous care insurance.

My son lived four days in 1984 and his medical bills were over twenty thousand dollars. In 4 days, 33 years ago. Can you imagine what they would be now?

Before the ACA private insurance companies did not have to cover essential health benefits. And they did not. There was no mandated standards for coverage, it pretty much depended on what your employer offered you.

Had Matthew lived I would not have changed jobs in 1994 as my new job did not cover any pre existing condition which needed medical care for the first six months of employment. He would have been off my insurance back then when he was 18 or 22 and been uninsured until the ACA was passed in 2010.

I did not worry about these factors when I begged God for my son to live. No parent should have to, they should focus on their child and his survival and his quality of life. I was actually one of the lucky ones, 33 years ago I had a good job and excellent insurance which only required me to pay $1,000 of his care.

33 years ago had Matthew lived he would have had excellent insurance for his young life and then none. Those were very scary days for many sick babies, sick adults and their families. Why would we want to go back to those days?

Unlike every other industrialized nation, we battle the idea of any mandated insurance. We all seem to agree to chip in on roads, police, fire, schools and trade but when it comes to health care there are some who protest loudly. Why is that?

With today's vote in the house, health care is on the verge of returning to the unequal and uneven coverage of 33 years ago. We have an odd system of tying it to employment and some of us are loathe to change that. I don't quite understand why.

For the sake of all the babies born with heart disease I implore our Senate to not take away the essential guarantees that we all waited so very long to acquire.  Don't let the states and insurance companies decide which diseases, conditions and lives matter.  I am on bended knee to beseech you not to take away any help we all so desperately need. Do it for your family, your state and your country.

Do it for Matthew.

Thank you.

If you would like to see the Jimmy Kimmel's video again, I have posted it below.

You also might enjoy this video with Shaun White. He is the future we all want for our babies with heart disease. And I just love him.

I normally write and post about quilts and sewing. Check out my Facebook page. Like the page and join the conversation!

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    Kathy Mathews

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