Jackson County

State representative to mom: Buy your own meds

Sarah Fowler

The Clarion-Ledger

Jeff Guice, R-Ocean Springs
Jeff Guice, R-Ocean Springs

A state representative told a mother that she should use her money to buy her daughter's lifesaving medicine instead of asking the state for help.

Monday, Nicole Nichols sent an email to each representative, asking for help in obtaining her diabetic daughter's insulin pump supplies.

State Rep. Jeffrey Guice, R-Ocean Springs, responded, "I am sorry for your problem. Have you thought about buying the supplies with money that you earn?"

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In an email, Nichols said, "We have recently begun having a lot of problems with Medicaid/CHIPS coverage for the essential diabetes supplies needed, not only to keep our kids healthy, but to keep them alive."

She asked, "Is there someone in the legislature that can and will help these children stay healthy? They must have these medications and supplies which administer the medications to stay healthy and, quite honestly, alive!"

Three representatives responded to Nichols. She said Guice is the only representative who responded negatively. His response was not the one Nichols was expecting.

When reached at the Capitol Tuesday morning, Guice declined to comment, saying, "I don't do interviews."

For the last three years, Nichols' 8-year-old daughter, Bella, has received supplies for her insulin pump through Medicaid.

For the last six months, Nichols said she and other parents have fought to get their children's medical supplies after the supply company outsourced products and shipping.

While the supply company was covered by Medicaid, the company they outsourced to was not. Nichols said she called 23 companies to find one that was both covered by Medicaid and in the original company's approved network. She has yet to find one.

The out-of-pocket expenses for Bella's monthly medication runs upwards of $2,000, Nichols said.

Frustrated and running out of options, Nichols said she turned to state representatives for help.

"I was flabbergasted that (Guice) had the wherewithal to push the send button," Nichols told The Clarion-Ledger. "Once I had a chance to think about it, I wasn't surprised at all. I grew up in Mississippi as awful as that sounds."

Nichols' husband also has diabetes and while the family "work their tails off" to make ends meet, they still live "paycheck to paycheck." Nichols said there is a shame that comes with being on Medicaid but it's the only way her daughter can live a healthy, normal life.

Nichols posted the exchange on her Facebook page, Living in the World of Test Strips. The response, she said, has been "overwhelming."

"Many people are absolutely appalled at his response," Nichols said. "I think he is very misinformed about the people that have Medicaid. There is this really bad assumption that people who have Medicaid for their kids are not doing what they can to thrive and be successful and the majority of the people I know work one, two, sometimes three jobs and struggle because of the medical cost. They might not be doing exceptionally well but they are functioning members of society."

Contact Sarah Fowler at sfowler@gannett.com or 601-961-7303. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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