Thursday in the Mountain State

“Shortly before my son Riley’s second birthday, he was diagnosed with severe Autism. He was completely non-verbal, barely eating, barely sleeping, and we had no real way to communicate with him.

He started receiving intensive Applied Developmental Analysis, or ADA therapy. We have insurance through my employer, but it does not cover the cost of ADA therapy. Because of the Affordable Care Act, behavioral health is considered an essential component. Because of the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing conditions, my family was able to purchase supplemental insurance for Riley. Without that supplemental insurance, we would not be able to afford therapy.

Riley is incredibly lucky to receive these services. The majority of the children on the Autism spectrum in West Virginia do not receive any type of early intervention. And right now, because of state policy, Medicaid does not cover ADA.

We have to do something because even though the cost of behavioral therapy is high, the cost of these children not receiving services is much higher. You cannot quantify the difference that a child’s life can have from receiving this therapy. And trust me, as a parent, you cannot put a price on your child’s ability to communicate.

People talk about health care as an expense, but Riley’s health care is an investment. In two years, he has made amazing progress. He is now talking and playing with toys, and spontaneously saying, ‘I love you, mommy.’ This is an investment we must continue to make. If my son continues this therapy, they believe he can be mainstreamed into public schools. And with the right support, Riley’s future potential is limitless.

The bad news is that Republicans are still actively trying to deny children like my son the necessary interventions and treatments. When our representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they voted against my child’s future, and we must hold them accountable.

We won an important battle, but this is a war. It’s a war on our children, on our seniors, and on our loved ones. Families like mine know struggle and we take no victory for granted—but we cannot do this alone. Keep fighting.”

Hear from all of our speakers from our event in Charleston, West Virginia by watching it here.