The Supreme Court, Health Care Reform and One Little Girl

By Elizabeth Cohen Senior Medical Correspondent | St. Joseph News-Press, March 27, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Supreme Court, Health Care Reform and One Little Girl


Elizabeth Cohen Senior Medical Correspondent, St. Joseph News-Press


NOVATO, California (CNN) -- When health care reform passed Congress more than two years ago, Julie Walters yelled for her husband to come into the living room where she was watching the vote live on television.

"I was so happy," Walters remembers. "I yelled for Matt. I said, 'Do you know what this means? Do you know what this means?'"

The historic vote meant their 18-month-old daughter, Violet McManus, would be able to keep her health insurance. Without health care reform, she would have gotten kicked off her parents' insurance, perhaps as early as her 5th birthday, because her care is so expensive.

"I was like, Violet's covered now!" Walters remembers. "We're okay. We can breathe."

But now Violet's parents are worried they won't be able to breathe easily again.

This week, the Supreme Court is hearing a debate on health care reform. The court could keep the reform intact, repeal parts of it, or get rid of the law altogether.

"I'm really scared," Walters says. "Like, I-can't-sleep scared." 'Completely blue in her crib' Violet McManus was born healthy, but when she was 11 months old her parents woke up in the middle of the night in their Novato, California, home to find her having a seizure.

"She was completely blue in her crib and shaking," Walters remembers.

It was to be the first of hundreds of seizures -- sometimes thirty in one day.

Violet has been hospitalized about six times and each hospitalization cost more than $50,000.

She's now on two drugs to control the seizures and carries oxygen with her wherever she goes because she stops breathing when she has her seizures. She needs speech therapy and frequent doctor's visits.

Matt McManus, Violet's father, gets health insurance through his work as a video game designer. Before health care reform, there was a $5 million lifetime limit on Violet's insurance policy. Violet is now 3 and her parents calculate she could hit that cap by her 5th birthday, and almost certainly by her 10th.

Health care reform made lifetime limits illegal -- which is why Violet's family breathed easier when it passed -- but now her parents are worried the Supreme Court could restore the limits and Violet would lose her insurance. …

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