Monday, January 26, 2009

Help Pass H.B. 124

The Utah Legislature is in session. Now before you go and hide, there’s a good thing happening right now in the legislature. Representative Christine A. Johnson has sponsored a bill (H.B. 124) asking for “Insurance Coverage for Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders and Short Bowel Syndrome.” (Click here to read the text of the bill.)

What are Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders? Basically, it’s a disorder that “is characterized by having above normal amounts of eosinophils in one or more specific places anywhere in the digestive system.” In terms the rest of us can understand, these people (and we’re often talking about babies and kids here) have intestines that can’t tolerate or absorb regular foods or even baby formulas composed of whole proteins, fats, or carbohydrates.

People with these disorders are allergic to just about everything. Babies with it can’t eat anything but a specific type of formula made from non-allergenic amino acids that are already broken down so that the baby can more easily digest it. Unfortunately, this formula costs hundreds of dollars a month for a single child, and most insurance companies don’t cover it. Hundreds of dollars a month. Hundreds. Did I mention hundreds?

Rep. Johnson’s bill will direct insurance companies to recognize these diseases as the deadly diseases they are, and will get the insurance company to cover this formula as the medically necessary product it is if the child’s doctor prescribes it.

Without this formula, these babies simply do not thrive. They drop well below range on weight and height charts. They grow very ill. They can’t eat anything, not even mother’s breast milk. Yet most insurance companies ignore it.

So we’re very thankful to Rep. Johnson for sponsoring and filing this bill with the Legislature. If you’ve got a minute or two, call or write to your own state representative and let him or her know how serious this disease is, and how essential covering this formula is for the families affected by it.

If insurance companies will cover Viagra to make babies, the least they can do is cover the medically essential formula that is all that will keep some of those babies alive and thriving.

You go, Rep. Johnson!

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