Healthcare: The McGrath Family’s Story

NETWORK members Joe and Rita McGrath of Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania know firsthand why Medicaid is important. It has been critical in keeping their daughter alive and the family from bankruptcy. When preparing for the arrival of their first child, Joe and Rita received the news their daughter would be born with Down syndrome. Some people asked Joe and Rita if they were going to terminate the pregnancy, but for the McGraths, it was never a question. The first few months of Maura’s life were difficult, but the McGraths pushed through the dark days with the support of friends and family.  A little more than a year later Joe and Rita welcomed their second daughter, Michelle.

Now 17 years old, Maura continues to be the blessing her parents have always known her to be. In addition to Down syndrome, Maura is also nonverbal and has been diagnosed with autism and behavioral issues. As a minor living with disabilities, Maura qualifies for Medicaid benefits. Even though Joe and Rita both work, the cost of Maura’s healthcare is too expensive for their family to afford on their own.

An integral part of Maura’s wellbeing is the care Maura receives from her home health aide, Williamina. Taking care of Maura is a full time job and looking after her became more difficult for her mother, Rita, after she fought cancer. Additionally, Joe has Parkinson’s disease. Medicaid provided the necessary funds for the McGraths to hire assistance, and in the past seven years Williamina has become like a family member.

In addition to a home health aide, Maura needs eight different medications, medical equipment and supplies, and frequent doctor appointments. Medicaid covers these costs. Without Medicaid the McGrath family would be in financial ruin. The cost of Maura’s medicine alone would be several hundred dollars every month. These are expenses the McGraths, and many families in similar situations, would be unable to afford without the help of Medicaid.

Joe and Rita have experienced the life-changing impact of affordable healthcare, and there are millions of families like the McGraths that need Medicaid. Each of these human lives is more valuable than cutting costs or turning a profit. We are one another’s keeper and the care Medicaid recipients are entitled to is our shared responsibility.

On March 24, 2017, during debate over the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House of Representatives, Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA-13) shared Maura McGrath’s story on the House floor and urged his fellow members to vote no on the AHCA.

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