On the Hill: Texas Children's patients lobby for Medicaid during Family Advocacy Day

Houston - (July 1, 2013) - In June, two families traveled with Texas Children's to Capitol Hill to emphasize the important role of Medicaid to millions of families across the nation.

Ashley Cardenas, her baby, Audrina, and Jamie Schanbaum and her mother, Patsy, traveled to Washington, D.C. to share how Medicaid greatly impacted their personal journeys. They were among 36 families who participated in the Children's Hospital Association's (CHA) Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day. The families convened on Capitol Hill to deliver an important message to members of Congress: at a time when access to care is improving for millions of adults, don't forget the kids.

As states prepare for health reform and the entry of more than 30 million, mostly adult Americans into the health care system, these families will call on our nation's leaders to ensure they focus on the needs of children.

"Even as the Affordable Care Act is implemented, we expect that 40 percent of all children will continue to rely on Medicaid for access to specialized pediatric care," said CHA President and CEO Mark Wietecha. "The set-up of health exchanges, as well as Medicaid expansion in many states, is aimed primarily at millions of adults, but we can't let that dilute the resources available for children - especially children with medical complexities."

Baby Audrina made national news when she was born last fall with a third of her heart outside of her body. A skilled team of Texas Children's surgeons operated on Audrina's strong but exposed heart in October 2012, and she was discharged with a sturdy shield to protect her heart and good prognosis in January.

Schanbaum was a student at the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 when she contracted meningococcal septicemia, and subsequently endured a months-long fight that would force doctors to amputate both feet and most of her fingers.

Both girls depend on the support of Medicaid to ensure they can receive comprehensive care and treatment.

While in the nation's capitol, the Cardenas and Schanbaum families met with Senator John Cornyn's staff, Senator Ted Cruz, Congressmen Pete Olson, Gene Green, Ted Poe and Mike McCaul. Several members of the congressional delegation took a special interest in the families, talking with them at great length and posing for photos. Rep. Olson was so inspired by their stories that he wrote personal notes to each of them.

The families also participated in numerous media interviews: FOX 26 KRIV interviewed the families from Washington, D.C., the Houston Chronicle followed the group during their trip, featuring photos in an online gallery, and an NBC 2 KPRC story updated viewers on Baby Audrina's remarkable journey since her life-saving surgery last October. Additionally, Ashley Cardenas authored an opinion editorial published in the Huffington Post about why Mediciad matters to her daughter, Audrina.

"It's important that Congress sees these faces - these families - impacted by Medicaid," said Texas Children's Public Relations Director Christy Brunton, who traveled with the Cardenas and Schanbaum families to D.C. "These families demonstrate why we need support for programs like Medicaid, and having them speak directly to government leaders helps ensure that Medicaid isn't just a number in the budget. We want them to remember the stories and the impact Medicaid has had and will continue to have on their quality of life. "

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.