ANN ARBOR, Mich - Seven-year-old Olivia Erickson and her family will travel to Washington, D.C. from Wheeler, Mich., to speak with lawmakers about the fate of children's health care and the role that children's hospitals play in the community.
They are among more than 40 child patients who on June 18 are taking part in the 2009 National Association of Children's Hospitals Family Advocacy Day, an effort to raise awareness of the specialized care that children's hospitals provide and to ensure that health reform efforts address the needs of children.
Along with other families from across the United States, Olivia - who was a cancer patient at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and has been in remission for three years - will bring to light concerns about issues such as health care coverage, costs and continued access to the specialized and high quality of care provided by children's hospitals.
Coverage provided to children through Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program often leaves gaps in access to care due to low reimbursement for services and limited physician participation in these programs.
"Health reform represents an immediate opportunity to improve the health status of all Americans, particularly children-the most vulnerable among us," said Lawrence McAndrews, president and CEO of N.A.C.H.
While in the nation's capital, the patients, along with family members, will meet with their members of Congress to discuss the specialized care they received through children's hospitals and the critical need for appropriate funding of such care. Olivia and her parents Tina and James Erickson, plan to meet with U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), among others.
Olivia's family hopes the trip will show lawmakers the serious concerns families across the nation have about the state of health care as well as highlight the work done by local children's hospitals.
Olivia was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, which produced skeletal metastases, the day before her fourth birthday. At C.S Mott Children's Hospital, Olivia had most of the tumor on her brain removed, received radiation and chemotherapy. After six to eight months of chemotherapy, Olivia was able to defeat her cancer.
The children participating in Family Advocacy Day range in age from 1 to 19, and are current or former patients of children's hospitals nationwide.
Nationwide, children's hospitals provide nearly 40 percent of all hospital care for children and the majority of care for children with serious medical conditions. Children's hospitals are responsible for providing training for a third of pediatricians and virtually all pediatric sub-specialists.