Crystal’s story

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Crystal’s story

Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans rely on the CHIP program, which provides low-cost health coverage to children who need it.

Crystal’s family is one of them.

Last year, when Congress refused to reauthorize the program that’s made a huge difference for her family, she went to Washington, D.C., where she worked with Sherrod to help ensure CHIP funding would be extended. Read Crystal’s powerful story below:

A few years ago, my husband and I were both working in the nonprofit sector: He was working with adults with developmental disabilities, and I was a case manager for 14-21 year olds who had been diagnosed with severe or symptomatic mental health issues.

We made enough that we were financially stable and saving money. Then I got pregnant, and had a completely healthy, normal pregnancy. When I delivered, we found out that our son, Noble, has a really rare genetic disorder. That was a huge surprise. We had done testing, we’d had great prenatal care. It had just gone totally undetected.

Noble had 11 specialists when he was born. We were attending a couple appointments a week for the first year of his life. He was getting physical therapy, occupational therapy, and then eventually speech therapy, every single week. I had been planning on going back to work, but there was just no way we could provide the kind of care he needed through a sustainable childcare arrangement.

So I started working part-time and mostly from home. It was a substantial income drop. For a long time we were able to maintain private insurance—then we realized that as long as we were in this situation, we would always be living at or under the poverty level.

Eventually, my husband switched careers. He got a job as a Financial Advisor, and when he was first hired, he was told that he had no health insurance for the first 6 months. There was no way we’d be able to do that—6 months of no healthcare is thousands of dollars in medical costs, for us.

We were already linked with the Bureau of Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH), and they said we should apply for Medicaid/CHIP because we were income-eligible. That made us really nervous, because having worked in fields where families are relying on those programs, my husband and I know how hard that can be. But we had to have insurance. We went ahead and applied, and ended up with Medicaid and CHIP.

My husband was able to make the transition to being a Financial Advisor because we didn’t have to worry about being able to afford our health insurance, or whether or not we would have it for 6 months. I was able to work more, too.

CHIP provided us with so much economic mobility. Without it, we would never have been able to afford a house, and now we have one. We couldn’t put aside any money for retirement or college savings for the kids, and now we can.

That’s why last summer, when Congress wouldn’t reauthorize CHIP, I knew I had to speak out. Noble and I came to Washington, D.C. with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and met with Sherrod Brown. He spent over an hour with us—it was clear he was very concerned about the renewal of CHIP. He knows that families relying on CHIP aren’t leeching off the system. I work 2 jobs, my husband works 60 hours a week. But because of the ridiculous costs and instability in our healthcare system, middle-class families with all the privileges in the world are finding themselves desperate for a public system and for CHIP.

Sherrod paid attention to us, championed our issue, and saw it through until CHIP was attached to the omnibus bill. We met with lots of people in D.C., and no one took the time to follow up, but Sherrod and his staff did. Other Republicans said they cared about the issue, but they didn’t care enough to meet with CHIP families when we flew halfway across the country to visit their offices.

To me, Sherrod is a real public servant. He goes above and beyond politics and really champions his constituents—especially when they have a serious emergency. There are hundreds of thousands of CHIP families in Ohio. I know we can count on Sherrod to be there for us and fight for us, and I’m glad to do the same for him.