My Son Deserves to Have a Full Life

We want our child (and all kids) to have every opportunity in the world, no matter his diagnosis

By Jennifer Runnels

When our son was born, we learned he qualified for Healthy Montana Kids because we found ourselves in the low-income bracket. The day after he was born, we also learned something was terribly wrong, and we were flown to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital for emergency surgery.

My son had suffered a very rare, undetected birth defect. He required two major surgeries and multiple procedures, leaving him with half his bowel and a serious medical condition called Short Bowel Syndrome. We are now required to travel back to Seattle to see his surgeons every year, a major expenditure for our family. He also has to see a pediatric gastroenterologist every six months.

Without Medicaid expansion, we’re terrified he will be dropped from Montana Healthy Kids. With his pre-existing condition and extensive medical needs, we’re worried he won’t be covered by another provider when the Affordable Care Act is repealed. If this happens, we will not be able to afford the healthcare he so desperately needs to live. My 2-year-old son deserves to have a full life and deserves to live in a country where people take care of each other. If the ACA is repealed, there has to be a replacement that works for families like mine.

My husband and I are hardworking Montanans. We pay our taxes. I’m currently finishing the details on my master’s thesis to submit for publication. We’re working our tails off to get out of the low-income bracket so we never have to worry about medical insurance for our son. We want our child (and all kids) to have every opportunity in the world, no matter his diagnosis.

Please think of us when you vote. When you call your legislators. And when you comment about my family on social media.

Jennifer Runnels

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