Annie Cummer, parent to children with autism
Press conference remarks:
Good morning. I’m Annie Cummer, and I never thought that my children would be on Medicaid. Yet, here I am, fearful that we will lose it. I live in Hammond with my husband and our three sons. All of my sons have autism. We have traditional insurance through my husband’s job that we pay $212.50 a month for. We also have Medicaid. Charles is one of our twins and he is seven years old. In March we were told that he should be placed in an inpatient care center in Texas because we could not get him the supports and treatment here that he needed.
Because of Medicaid and ABA therapy, we are able to keep him home with us and give him those supports. Without it, ABA can cost a minimum of $50 an hour. I have three sons that need it. So, let’s say that they only need two hours, which they need more, but let’s say it’s two hours and three days a week. That would be $3,600 a month for their basic level treatment out of pocket. Our traditional insurance does not cover ABA therapy, but Medicaid does. Having Medicaid enables our sons to get treatments and keeps my son Charles home.
We still pay co-pays for their occupational therapy once a week for all three and speech that is not covered by Medicaid. We still have to keep our regular insurance plus Medicaid because it is not accepted everywhere and they need many different therapies. We cannot afford to lose it. It is crucial in order to give them the supports that they need to become functioning adults in society They will not need ABA therapy forever but the skills they will learn from it will follow them into adulthood and help them become functioning members of society. This investment spent on their future will have significant returns in the end.
Ideally, this is what programs like Medicaid are for. They are to invest in and support people who need it at a lower cost than putting them in an institution or a hospital that's more costly in the long run. Instead of making massive cuts, which is easy, the government should focus on trying to find better ways to support its poor and disabled. Our society is only as strong as its weakest link, and right now we are forcing it to break.