After 15 month insurance battle Wasilla family gets new wheelchair
For more than a year, a Wasilla mother has been fighting insurance companies to get a new wheelchair for her son.
Judy Edwards adopted her son Eric when he was a baby. Eric was born to a drug addict; he has cerebral palsy and a number of other medical issues that prevent him from walking and talking.
“He’s able to drive this chair using his head. He pushes side to side which way he wants to go and back to go forward,” Judy demonstrated on his old chair.
Eric will spend the rest of his life in a chair, which is why Judy said it’s important to have one that fits him.
At 9 years old, Eric has grown out of his first specialized chair he got when he was three. “It was dangerous for him to be driving,” Judy said.
Instead, Eric’s been using a traditional wheelchair — one that always has to be pushed around by another person.
For 15 months she battled with his two insurance companies to get them to pay for the $33,000 chair; the companies said it “wasn’t medically necessary.”
“How necessary is it to be able to talk and get where you want to go? How medically necessary is it to communicate what his needs are?” Judy asked.
His care coordinator, Bob Crowley, even started an online petition on change.org that gathered more than 100,000 signatures to get the companies to change their policies.
“She would call this one and that one and this one and that one and keep getting sent back and forth and I thought this is pretty ridiculous. She shouldn’t have to fight like this,” Crowley said.
All of their work paid off. After more than a year-and-a-half of red tape and heartache, Eric’s new chair arrived at Alyeska Therapy Center in Wasilla.
After a few adjustments he was zipping around the gym floor, maneuvering around orange construction cones with ease.
“It can’t even explain how important freedom of movement would be,” Judy said. “Independence, real, true independence where he would make his own choices,” she beamed.
It’s been a long journey for Eric but for now the road ahead looks open with possibilities.
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