CHIP and my daughter

2010 was a rough year financially for my family. I had been laid off the previous September. My wife was working part time in a position that did not utilize her skills to the fullest of her ability. We were both looking for full time work in our respective fields and finding nothing.

We also have an amazing (and increasingly not a ) little girl. I was lucky, I was able to spend fifteen months of the most critical developmental time with Elise.

We had a routine and we had fun. Long walk to the library on Monday and Wednesday for story times, bus rides for lap sits and finger plays on Tuesday and Thursdays. Playground time with her little buddies almost every day so that they could toddle and I could talk with other adults. Fridays usually meant we had lunch dates with the moms in the group that we had assembled. I don’t know how much of this routine was for her and how much of it was for me as it was my social life as a stay at home parent.

When I had been laid off, I tried to COBRA my family’s coverage. We had the stimulus subsidy of 65% of the COBRA premium helping, but health insurance was still one of my four unemployment checks for a policy with a $2,500 individual deductible. My wife and I quickly realized that this would blow through our savings and run up credit card debt too quickly. We decided to see what we could find for Elise while we applied for an underwritten plan with a $12,500 deductible, no maternity and a 6 month non-emergency surgery exclusion waiver for under $100. We could not afford a $12,500 deductible but we could probably pay that off over several years if we got a cancer diagnosis.

We applied for CHIP, and after the application ping-ponged back and forth between the Medicaid qualification team and the CHIP team, we put Elise on heavily subsidized CHIP. $25 a month for UPMC for Kids. It had a big network, low co-pays and good customer service. And we barely used it for her. She had her one year old visit covered by CHIP. I betrayed her as I held her down as the nurse gave her the vaccines. Daddy was supposed to protect her. I was not supposed to aid and abet people stabbing her. Ice cream fixed that betrayal.

And then mid-summer came. She suddenly transitioned from being a happy go lucky kid to being a complete cranky pants. In the last week of June she would just sit down in the middle of a walk and cry. She would reach for Mom or Dad to carry her instead of running with the other kids. She was not herself.

We took her to the pediatrician, he saw nothing, but said to trust our instincts. A few days later on the 4th of July, we knew something was not right so we took her to the ER. They X-rayed her and thought nothing too strange was happening and sent us back to our PCP. He saw her again and set up an appointment with an orthopedist as he saw that Elise was not walking right.

Three days later, I took her to the orthopedist. He made funny faces at her and offered her a lollipop as the grown-ups talked. He poked and prodded. He thought he saw something on the original X-ray, and ordered another that focused more on her shin than her ankles. Four minutes later, we had a diagnosis, a green stick fracture. Once he had a clear indicator, he showed me how the ER team missed it as the break had not been obvious.

She got a walking boot. Three odd steps and a high five to the orthopedists, and we were on our way. And then she was back to being a happy kid as we stopped at the mall to let her play in some air conditioned space:

CHIP made sure my little girl was safe, CHIP made sure my little girl got the care that she needed. CHIP made sure my little girl was not walking around in pain for the summer. CHIP made my little girl’s life a whole lot better.

48 replies
  1. 1

    And every Republican in Congress would ignore your story and claim “we can’t afford to help our nation’s families and their kids because corporations and billionaires know what to do with the money.”

  2. 2
    NobodySpecial says:

    Now Orrin Hatch will have to send his boys to shake you for every nickel you cost the Koch brothers.

    Every time I hear a story like this, the more I want to put these bastards on the unemployment line.

  3. 3
    MomSense says:

    What a cutie. I’m so furious about losing CHIP. In the Medicaid non-expansion states, going without insurance is not a temporary problem. Without CHIP these kids will not have wellness visits, immunizations, asthma medications, autism screenings and treatment. There are a lot of panicked parents. For Hatch to be so cruell, is unforgivable. The Republicans have revealed themselves to be monsters. It’s a party for people who are cruel and greedy.

  4. 4

    Cutting CHIP is evil. I don’t understand how the Rs can do this and live with themselves.

  5. 5
    debbie says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady):

    Especially when they tout their pro-lifeness!

  6. 6
    satby says:

    It’s another way to get back at that bitch Clinton. That’s all they care about: revenge, spite, and stealing everything that isn’t nailed down for themselves and their oligarch owners.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    The rails of guillotines need to be greased with the fat of billionaires, media pundits, right wing think tank drones and conservative politicians.

  9. 9
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    CHIP made sure my little girl was safe, CHIP made sure my little girl got the care that she needed. CHIP made sure my little girl was not walking around in pain for the summer. CHIP made my little girl’s life a whole lot better.

    And that’s why we have to get rid of CHIP.

  10. 10
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady): It’s easy. Their little babies don’t have to worry about it at all.

    @debbie: The GOP is about as pro-life as Genghis Kahn. I take that back, that’s an insult to Genghis Kahn.

  11. 11
    MomSense says:

    The RNC is all in on pedophile Moore at the same time they cut children off of their health care access. Their depravity is visible from space.

  12. 12
    HeleninEire says:

    Ah, that beautiful girl. In pain but unable to express it. My heart is breaking for her. And she is lucky to have parents who knew how to navigate the system. Thank goodness it was resolved.

  13. 13
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks for the testimonial, Mayhew.

    CHIP shouldn’t even be up for discussion. Should be a given.

  14. 14
    Xentik says:

    Stories like this and stories of people’s children losing care should be directed to newspapers and local news channels everywhere as CHIP fails, and used for ads against the republicans for 2018. It still surprises me sometimes the lengths they will go to to claw back money for the wealthy. I was fairly certain that they would at least avoid the mustache-twirlingly evil move of letting children’s health care expire, but then they are planning to raise taxes on orphans and prevent people from taking medical deductions, so perhaps I should have expected this…

  15. 15
    Anthony Rausch says:

    And this is why I have loved my life as an ex-patriot American overseas: universal healthcare – especially for children.

    Raised two kids and never once had a worry about visits to the clinic, clinical care or pharmaceutical costs. Had a serious health issue myself (included in-patient care), but never worried about ‘personal bankruptcy.’

    When I am in the USA and people (republican-leaning relatives mostly) quiz me about my ‘high taxes’ and my ‘long waits’ . . . and all the other false impressions they have of life elsewhere, I just shake my head and smile . . . knowing that soon I will be back in a society that prioritizes people over profits . . . citizens over corporations.

  16. 16
    d58826 says:

    WELL someone has to contribute to upgrading the A/C unit at the Koch’s polo pony stable.

  17. 17
    MomSense says:


    Sadly these families are very stressed out. They are working crazy hours for little money. We have to go to them or pressure newspapers to send journalists to interview them.

  18. 18
    HeleninEire says:

    @HeleninEire: After I posted that it occurred to me that Elise did, in fact, express herself. But only as any toddler could. She became a “cranky pants” and sat down during her beloved walks.

    I was probably thinking about how I would express myself.

    “Jesus F Christ, dad. Fuckity, fuck fuck. MY LEG. Pay attention to my goddamn leg. It’s killing me. FUUUUUUCK. My frigging leg. Which part of this is confusing? Yeah, MY FUCKING LEG.

    But that’s just me. Clearly Elise was raised way better than I was. ;)

  19. 19
    r€nato says:

    What is missing from this discussion is how much better off Elise would have been with the Freedom™ and Liberty™ to not have the tyranny of government health care interfering in her life.

  20. 20

    Does the Right-leaning media tell these tales of struggling families? I’ve never noticed. Most of their media is about librul attacks on trump, the crimes of Hillary Lock Her Up Clin-ton, the threat of immigrants raping and shooting “our” women (while accusing sexual assault victims of lying whenever it’s rich white boys committing those crimes), the War on Christmas, and fake war heroes praising Republicant leaders for their piety and nobility.

  21. 21


    CHIP shouldn’t even be up for discussion. Should be a given.

    Thing about Republicans: they don’t give. They don’t give aid, they don’t give sympathy, they don’t give a shit if you’re earning under $77,000 a year.

  22. 22
    Citizen_X says:

    She suddenly transitioned from being a happy go lucky kid to being a complete cranky pants.

    See? Another victim of Big Vaccine.

    On-topic, though, CHIP also saved her from having a permanently deformed leg.

  23. 23
    r€nato says:

    @PaulWartenberg: worry not, as soon as a Republican loses their job and needs a helping hand to keep a roof over their heads, they will come to see the value of the social safety net.

    One at a time. At this rate, conservatives will be convinced of the need for the safety net in about a million years.

    But only those specific programs that helped them personally.

  24. 24
    Central Planning says:

    @r€nato: I think you mean the freedom of Big Parenting.

    I was laid off in the summer of 2001. We had 3 kids at the time. That turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me – the time I spent with the kids was awesome. I never would have known it because I was stuck in the mindset of working 8-5, M-F and that’s what you do.

    I don’t remember the pricing, but I do remember having COBRA for a few months until I got a job in October 2001.

    When I started my own consulting business in 2003, I had the business join the local chamber of commerce/business alliance. With that, I was able to buy group insurance for the family. If I remember right, I think it was $1000/month for health and dental insurance. I think there were just co-pays, maybe $10-$20.

    I’m not sure if getting insurance this way makes sense for an individual any more. Maybe it will after the tax bill passes.

  25. 25
    donnah says:

    She’s beautiful! I’m glad she’s getting better.

    Cutting human services has always been a terrible idea. What infuriates me about Hatch and his ilk is that they don’t stop at saying, “It’s a budgetary issue”. Nope, they have to go further and show their true inner feelings, that “those people” should have invested their money and not wasted it on booze and women. Intelligent people don’t spend every cent as soon as they get it, they save.

    I would laugh if it wasn’t such a tragic situation. Hatch assumes that people living paycheck to paycheck have money left over to invest. We save what we can, but we’re not tooling around in an expensive car and sipping champagne from our sequined slippers.

    Our son was diagnosed with leukemia when he was three. I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband had a job at our local cable council. When Nick was diagnosed, we spent 17 days in the children’s hospital. Chemo and other outpatient costs piled on top of the hospital stay sent us deeply into debt. And our insurance costs were driving up the cost of others in that business, so my husband was fired. We were devastated.

    So we had no savings and no income. My husband started looking for work immediately. We were struggling with our son’s new needs and focused on his care. It was the most difficult time of our lives.

    We had the good fortune of having BCMH, a medical provider in the state of Ohio and they picked up most of the tab. It was a state medical aid fund. I don’t know anyone personally who could have paid out of pocket for over a hundred thousand dollars in bills. We paid the rest off over time, but it was still a big chunk.

    Happily, my son went into remission early, went through five years of treatment, and is a handsome, successful 30-year-old. We would still be paying those bills if we hadn’t gotten help.

    The Republicans running our country are cruel, selfish, and mean-spirited.

  26. 26
    Emma says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Darn right it is. Chinggis Khaan practiced meritocracy and encouraged religious tolerance in the Mongol Empire. He was actually a damn liberal by GOP standards.

  27. 27
    sherparick says:

    @PaulWartenberg: No, it is worse than that, Movement Conservatives believe it is wrong to tax money of billionaires and multi-millionaires or the estates that they leave to their heirs to help some other family’s child health problems; those health and other problems after all are probably God’s judgment on their lack of virtue and morality. They have combined John Galt’s speech and the Prosperity Gospel into an ideology that comfort and supports greed and malice.

    Paul Waldman had a great column on this on the Plum Line yesterday talking about Senators Grassley and Hatchs comments on the “undeserving” majority of Americans.

    “…They operate on the presumption that the economic system is fair, and the results of that system provide a measure of different people’s virtue. If you’re rich — even if you got rich by choosing the right parents — they presume that you deserve to be taxed as lightly as possible, while if you’re in need of the kinds of help we offer low-income people, then it reflects a moral failing. If we give you any help at all, it should be as grudging as possible, accompanied by stern lectures and even rituals of humiliation such as drug tests….”

  28. 28
    Cermet says:

    Did the MD discus any reasons why this might have occurred? Is it common injury due to jumping off a slightly elevated step or maybe due to a diet related issue? If the later, is low intact of vitamin D or K2 an issue? Inquiring minds need to ask these questions of the MD to address issues that might then be preventable or avoidable.

    Still, both very glad the issue was discovered, that she is healing and that this further proves just now invaluable CHIP is for our country.

  29. 29
    Cermet says:

    @donnah: Wow, that is both proof now critical these social safety nets are and is also such an extremely uplifting story (the successful treatment!) – so very glad your son is healthy again and that you all weathered this terrible event!

  30. 30
    low-tech cyclist says:

    The GOP doesn’t mind borrowing $1.5 trillion to shovel money at their rich donors, but they have no money for CHIP, which would cost 1/100 of that amount.

    They are evil. I don’t want a revolution, but if there was one, they’d be first against the wall, and they’d deserve it.

  31. 31
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:


    Just tell them that the families are WWC Trump voters – the newsies will be right out.

  32. 32
    satby says:

    @Cermet: “Most greenstick fractures occur in children younger than 10 years of age. This type of broken bone most commonly occurs in children because their bones are softer and more flexible than are the bones of adults…Childhood fractures most commonly occur with a fall.”

  33. 33
    BretH says:

    Last week I got an email from my republican Representative Tom Garrett touting his vote on HR3922:

    `Continuing Community Health And
    Medical Professional Programs to Improve Our Nation, Increase National
    Gains, and Help Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers, and Hopeful
    Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable Act of 2017” or the

    the house bill to reauthorize CHIP funding “and other purposes”. Here’s what he wrote about the Democrats in the Senate who have issues with certain provisions in the senate version:

    “It’s hard to fathom why our Senators would stall this legislation, or why anyone would play politics with a program that has received bipartisan support while thousands of Virginia children and women are in jeopardy of losing their coverage.”

    He conveniently left out that HR3922 *also* cuts $6+ billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (established by Obamacare), allows states to shorten a 90 day grace period for payment of premiums down to a month, and introduces means testing to Medicare.

    Sociopaths, all of them.

  34. 34
    Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et Al.) says:

    Not to be harsh, but you are an awful father, and CHIP is a communist plot to steal our Freedom™. You should have made your daughter build her own splints from young saplings and tie them on with strips of tree bark. Now, thanks to you and V.I. Lenin, we’re all that much less free, your daughter has been brainwashed by “free stuff” into being a lazy, communist taker, and Charles and David Koch are $600 less rich. You, sir, are a monster.

  35. 35
    From Both Sides of the Pond says:

    We just (as in, two weeks ago) got my son onto FAMIS (VA’s version of CHIP), just to find out we may lose that coverage at the end of January. The Shenandoah Valley where I live has a huge proportion of kids on the program, and all of them are about to have the bottom fall out. The area is poverty-stricken enough as it is, and this is just going to gut the region. Most the jobs here pay so low (even teaching jobs), that oftentimes full-timers qualify to be on it even if health insurance is offered through the workplace.

  36. 36
    Matt McIrvin says:

    This makes me retroactively angry at a certain commenter who kept insisting you were a billionaire CEO.

  37. 37
    Victor Matheson says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Well, I can tell you that I was pretty disappointed that Richard Mayhew turned out to be David Anderson instead of Sheldon Adelson.

  38. 38
    donnah says:


    Thank you! Everyone needs help sometimes.

  39. 39
    MazeDancer says:

    So happy your little girl got good care. And that she had attentive parents who listened to their instincts. So often people just accept “what the doctor says” the first time. And when they don’t have the money to keep pushing for more, don’t keep investigating.

    CHIP made the difference in your sweet girl’s life because you could keep seeking help. But your knowing more had to be done mattered equally. Like your working so hard to enroll in CHIP. Pushy Parenting can be a good thing, when necessar, and done with heart to benefit the child’s needs.

    Beautifully told story. Hearing about good parents, good government, and good results in good words was uplifting.

  40. 40
    marcopolo says:

    Well, this morning I called my Senators and Rep and told the Ds that I was perfectly fine with them shutting down the gov’t over reauthorizing CHIP and fixing DACA. And I laughed at my R Senator over how the Republicans botched their tax plan:

    In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Senate passed its wildly unpopular tax plan, bringing it one step closer to enacting a bill that experts determined on Monday may do less for the middle class—and more for the wealthy—than any tax bill in modern history. Normally, this would be cause for Republicans to celebrate. Under pressure on multiple fronts, including in Alabama, where a Democrat could potentially steal a Republican seat just because his opponent is an accused child molester; on Capitol Hill, where big donors threatened to close their wallets barring a legislative win; and in the White House, where the president’s grip on reality is growing more tenuous by the day, lawmakers pulled the party together and got sh*t done. Unfortunately, in their haste to jam a bill through that, as it stands, hits low-income Americans the hardest, Republicans made a mistake that has their corporate donors, i.e. the people who they want to please the most, extremely perturbed.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that in their frenzied effort to garner the votes necessary to pass their bill through a simple majority by doing things like giving Ron Johnson a bigger tax break for pass-through companies like the one his family owns, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to make some last-minute funding alterations. Pressed for cash, McConnell & Co. decided to keep the corporate alternative minimum tax rather than repeal it as planned. Like the individual A.M.T. tax, which is thought to be the only reason Donald Trump paid any taxes at all in 2005, the corporate A.M.T. tax puts a limit on how much companies can deduct, ensuring they don’t wind up paying close to nothing. In this case, the floor, after accounting for popular deductions like research and development, is 20 percent. If that rate sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s the one that the corporations will already be paying under the proposed plan, meaning that by deciding not to repeal the corporate A.M.T., Republican lawmakers have put companies in a position of losing some of their favorite breaks. And, shockingly, those companies are very pissed.

    That means we still have the chance to call and register our disapproval. And for folks in St. Louis, there is a street protest outside of Senator Blunt’s Clayton office (7700 Bonhomme) tomorrow at noon. Maybe I’ll see one of y’all there.

  41. 41
    Jim says:

    But where does she get all the drugs and alcohol that must have caused her injury? And has she been spending all her allowance money on just having fun? That’s what the Repubs tell me, so it must be true.

  42. 42
    MoxieM says:

    @Anthony Rausch: No shit! David’s little girl is a cutie… but I am always grateful that mine, now grown, moved to Germany. Protected by a social safety net, she is. And not even a citizen.

  43. 43
    MomSense says:


    I’m so glad your son is healthy and doing well. His illness must have been a terrible ordeal for your family.

  44. 44

    @HeleninEire: that was she was telling us. We were not listening closely enough

  45. 45
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Fast-forward to Wednesday. A few months after Trump’s upset victory, Sarandon said she does not believe she was on the wrong side of history. Hayes asked Sarandon to reflect on her mindset in March, when she was dead set against Clinton. The MSNBC host wondered if she regretted her position.

    “If you are not in touch with the status quo, you are going to lose,” Sarandon tried to explain on Wednesday. “I mean, if you’re arguing for shoring up the status quo, when America is asking for change, you are going to have a difficult time.”

    The tree of revolution must be watered with the pain of non-rich children.

  46. 46
    stinger says:

    Poor Elise! I can’t imagine the pain she was feeling and couldn’t tell you about. So glad you persisted until the cause was found and fixed.

  47. 47
    Raoul says:

    @NobodySpecial: Totally agree with your sentiment. On Hatch’s case, unfortunately, at his age and with his pension, we have a lot to do to bankrupt him to the point he’d need unemployment ins.

    I knew the GOP was shit. But the past few days, with what Hatch and Grassley have said, the rot is shot thru the whole damn place (not news, I know, but more in-my-face than usual).

    David, glad that you and your fam got what was needed from CHIP.

  48. 48
    psycholinguist says:

    In 2010 my own 5 year old had a similar change in behavior. We figured the flu, gave her some Tylenol, and she slept for most of two days. I got scared, and called my brother who’s an oncologist, and he said take her on in to the children’s hospital ER. The ER doc thought it might be something more, ordered an MRI, and found a growth on her kidney the size of a baseball. Surgery, radiation, and chemo followed. She’s a healthy 12 year old now.

    I relate this story because of my experience of taking her to chemo clinic every couple of weeks. I live in East TN, and the majority of families that I interacted with were working class people, roofers, servers, line workers, etc. and many of them were likely on CHIP. And they love their kids like anybody else. Those fuckers in congress need to sit in an oncology waiting room and see these skinny little bald-headed kids coming through that door every day, fighting to survive, then they can take their vote.

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