Life as they know it is on the verge of turning upside-down for a local family. Alabama Medicaid is threatening to eliminate the nursing care for a Mobile middle school student who had previously qualified for a special program. The girl's doctor says the changes are happening because of a state policy that doesn't make any sense.
13-year-old Lauren Rainey is full of life. She's smart, outgoing, and always smiling. Her nurse describes her as a drama queen. At school she is the class clown.
"She's a happy child," her mother, Laura, tells NBC 15 News. Her size is more like that of a 3 year old. But that's the least of her medical concerns.
"She's got the trache, she's deaf, she's got asthma, got an enlarged heart, all types of bone problems, scoliosis," said her mother.
To help her breathe, Lauren is hooked up to an oxygen machine and a humidifing mist machine. Lauren's doctor said her airway is restricted to the size of the end of an ink pen.
"That's why she is constantly suctioned. She is always getting plugged up," added Laura. Lauren's airway is suctioned several times an hour to prevent her from suffocating.
Due to her medical condition, Lauren requires 24-hour a day supervision. Medicaid currently provides her a trained nurse for 10 hours a day. But a recent letter from Alabama Medicaid says a decision has been made to eliminate Lauren's care.
There's more, naturally.
Minutes before our interview with Dr. McIntyre, Mildwurf was told we would only speak in general terms... that we were not to mention Lauren by name... "Because of regulations, that is not something as an individual or as an agency... that's not something we can discuss." We were told that even though Lauren's mother filled out the necessary paperwork giving Medicaid permission to speak specifically about her case.
When Lauren's name was mentioned by us, just to ask what information we had access to, the interview abruptly ended. "Turn the camera off. We're done with the interview at this point," we were told.
Before walking away, Dr. McIntyre did admit she makes her final decision to deny care without ever seeing the patients. "There is no ability to go out for every single one and see every single patient."
But with only 28 patients statewide receiving similar care, Lauren's mother believes the recipients should be seen by someone with the state agency before their nursing care is cut-off. "They need to come in and see these people and see that they need care."
Dr. Sindel tells us: "Most physicians would not agree with just letting somebody who is still functioning and has a real life and a personality just not be cared for." But then again, Dr. Sindel sees Lauren as a human being, not as just a medical chart.
"It's just sad. It's sad that our government can, you know... it's like throwing kids away." said Carolyn Yates, Lauren's 10-hour-a-day nurse. And it's because of the rules in the State of Alabama, this young girl will possibly be denied the care her doctors say is necessary for her to just live and breathe. Lauren's family has appealed Medicaid's decision. Meanwhile, Medicaid will continue to maintain Lauren's care through the appeals process.
And so it is, in Bush's America.