Children's Specialized Hospital Brain Injury Patient Went to Capitol Hill to Urge Congress to Safeguard Medicaid for Kids

July 19, 2017

The family of a local pediatric brain injury patient traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to meet with members of Congress as part of an effort to protect children’s Medicaid funding. Shanette and Khalil Pereira shared their grueling health care journey in meetings on Capitol Hill as part of the Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day.

North Brunswick resident, Khalil Pereira, age 22, was in a car accident while driving home from college and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. He was 18 years old at the time of the accident and in his first year of college. He spent weeks in intensive care and another six months at Children’s Specialized Hospital’s acute inpatient rehabilitation facility in New Brunswick, learning to walk, talk, eat, breathe on his own, and regain control of his body.  Khalil relied on Medicaid to cover cranioplasty surgery, neurosurgeon visits, outpatient therapies, transportation and other care vital to his recovery.

Khalil, his mother Shanette, and president and CEO of Children’s Specialized Hospital Warren E. Moore, met with members of the New Jersey delegation, including Senator Bob Menendez, and Congressional members Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Leonard Lance (NJ-7) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6), to share how Medicaid coverage benefitted his care and how the House and Senate health care bills could negatively affect the lives of other children receiving care at Children’s Specialized Hospital. The family also met with staff from Senator Cory Booker’s office.  The Pereira’s effort in Washington, D.C., was part of a broad national push to address key health care needs for children by the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA).

 “Many families of children like Khalil will face major health care challenges. It is important to protect Medicaid to allow these families to focus on their child’s care and recovery,” said Warren E. Moore, FACHE, president and CEO of Children’s Specialized Hospital. “We thank the Pereira family for sharing their story and putting a human face to the need to protect Medicaid.”

Of the nearly 1.8 million New Jerseyans enrolled in Medicaid, more than 800,000 are children who receive their health care through Medicaid and CHIP.  At Children’s Specialized Hospital, nearly 50 percent of the children who received care in 2016 were covered by Medicaid.  According to a recent report by Avalere Health, the U.S. House-passed American Health Care Act, on which the Senate bill was modeled, would cut Medicaid funding for children by at least $43 billion over 10 years by replacing the existing Medicaid payment system with a capped system that limits Medicaid funding to states.  

“Children’s Specialized Hospital saved my son’s life,” said Shanette Pereira, mother of brain injury patient Khalil.  “As a single mother, I don’t know what I would have done without Medicaid benefits to cover the six months of inpatient rehabilitation that allowed Khalil to walk, talk, eat and breathe on his own again.”

Children’s Specialized Hospital is the nation’s leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care for children from birth to 21 years of age facing special health challenges — from chronic illnesses and complex physical disabilities like brain and spinal cord injuries, to developmental and behavioral issues like autism and mental health. At thirteen different New Jersey locations, our pediatric specialists partner with families to make our many innovative therapies and medical treatments more personalized and effective...so children can achieve more of their goals.  To help, or find more information: call 888-CHILDRENS; visit www.childrens-specialized.org; Facebook: www.facebook.com/childrensspecialized; Twitter: www.twitter.com/childrensspecnj; YouTube: www.youtube.com/cshnj; LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/children's-specialized-hospital

For more information on Family Advocacy Day, visit www.childrenshospitals.org or follow the families on Facebook, www.facebook.com/speaknowforkids, and Twitter, @speaknowforkids.