State Politics

Guice, diabetes mom meet face to face at Capitol

Nicole Nichols and her daughter, Bella, 8.
Nicole Nichols and her daughter, Bella, 8.

Rep. Jeffrey Guice met face to face Thursday with the mother who was the subject of his rude answer to her question about Medicaid diabetes coverage.

Richland resident Nicole Nichols, whose daughter has Type 1 diabetes, put a statement about the meeting on her Facebook page and said she would have no further comment about the meeting. It said:

“I have spoken with Representative Guice via email and in person. He has issued a formal and informal apology for his choice of words.

“Rather than focus on the actions of one individual, I would love to thank the amazing number of people who have taken the time to offer their supportive comments, emails, and words of encouragement. These messages have been incredibly inspiring.

“What began as a plea for guidance has developed into a collective recognition of the hardships placed on families throughout the country by excessive medical costs. Whether it be a chronic illness or a badly timed case of the flu, no parent should have to worry about providing adequate medical care for their children.

“This discussion desperately needs to take place and all parties must come to the table willing to surrender their pride and truly seek a resolution. We must do everything we can to provide a healthy future for the children of this country.”

Her friend’s take on encounter

A friend, Clancy Walker, who was there, however, was somewhat taken aback by the encounter. She also has a child with Type 1 diabetes. Here is her take, which she posted on her Facebook page:

“I joined Nicki Nichols this morning at The Mississippi State Capitol to meet with Mr. Guice for his ‘apology’ for his cold email to her. First let me say this girl is an amazing advocate for all of our T1 babies. She was equipped with knowledge and spoke with eloquence.

“Second, I honestly believe he only apologized because he was told to. Towards the end of the conversation he looked at Nicki and asked, ‘do you worship?’

“I think we both were taken back with that question and wondered where this was headed. He proceeded to tell her that where he goes to church they help each other and maybe she should contact her church for help! I’m still in awe at his suggestion.

“He still missed her point! No one is asking for a handout from anyone. We just want the insurance companies to approve and help pay for our supplies and meds to keep them alive without having to go through hoops every month. No child’s life should be at stake by a person sitting behind a desk deciding what insurance will and will not pay for. We’ve still got a ways to go but you can believe she has definitely got the ball rolling!”

How the media storm began

Guice started a media storm when he asked her why she didn’t pay for her daughter’s diabetes “supplies with money that you earn.” After the situation festered for more than a day, he issued a written apology through the state House information office, calling his comment “completely insensitive and out of line.”

His comment only served to help Nichols get attention on the high cost of caring for a child with diabetes. She has received several encouraging replies from Medicaid, she said. Her family qualifies for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as kids Medicaid, even though her husband works two jobs.

“The outpouring of support has been phenomenal,” she said. “That’s what I’m focused on. It appears we are solving some problems.

“We have put this issue on an enormous stage.”

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