Local

Feb 12, 2014 12:48 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Teenager with lupus dropped from state health coverage

TUCSON - Thousands of Arizona families are without health insurance after their state coverage was dropped. Notices were sent out to 14 thousand families enrolled in Kids Care II.

The program expired January 31, 2014 leaving many parents scrambling to find insurance coverage, especially those with chronically ill children.

Kids Care II has helped the Perez family of Tucson immensely. Their teenage daughter has systemic lupus, an incurable disease that requires frequent doctor visits and multiple medications. They say, they can't afford to live without it.

Every morning Mikayla Perez a high school junior swallows 10 prescription medications.

"I've had to be in homebound and in regular school, because I do miss a lot of school because of how I feel," says Mikayla.

Her mom Carla Perez adds, "She usually ends up in the hospital, we make lots of visits to the hospital."

Both Carla and her husband work but can't afford regular medical insurance. Now they've been dropped from the state coverage they've come to count on.

"And this is just because we make $20 a week too much," says Carla.

They're not alone. 14,000 families in Arizona were notified by mail that Kids Care II is no more. They've been referred to the marketplace, healthcare.gov to find alternative coverage.

Julia Strange, VP of Community Benefit at Tucson Medical Center says, "This has been a blow for many families, but there are resources out there to help."

Strange says area hospitals are banding together to help guide people through the process.

"All of the hospitals have certified application counselor there, they are navigators of many of the community health clinics," says Strange.

Even so, with a chronic illness the Perez family worries it won't be enough.

Mikayla says, "It hurts me a lot to see my family go through this."

"We don't fit in to poverty, but we don't fit in to the rich, but those in the middle who have chronically ill children, there's no program to help us now," says Carla.

News 4 Tucson has put the Perez family in touch with Julia Strange over at TMC for guidance. For more information on community health resources, Strange can be reached at 520-324-2018.

Here's additional web resources:
SoAzCares.org
AzChildren.org
PCAP http://www.mypcap.org/
Healthcare.gov

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