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I am writing in response to Senator Daine's intention to dismantle children's Medicaid funding. My son is 8 and attends public school in Butte. He was born with several strikes against him from the beginning that he did not ask for. He was born with an esophagus disease called eosinophilic esophagitis, food allergies, asthma and autism.

He has been sick since he was an infant. His disease basically means that food attacks his body and makes him very sick. My son will undergo anesthesia for his 12th endoscopy next month, not counting all the times he has had for different unrelated surgeries. This is more times than most adults will undergo anesthesia in their lifetime. Each surgery costs about $10,000, and his monthly disease treatment is two inhalers for his esophagus disease ($1,100), pills for reflux ($300) and asthma inhaler ($400). We are fortunate enough to have him receive excellent care in Helena and Kalispell, which has not always been the case. Many families have to travel further to receive specialized care.

My son also has autism and therapy costs alone could literally bankrupt a family, which is then passed on to the consumer. My son does have private health insurance through my husband’s work, however, some private health insurers don't cover therapy. If they do, sessions are usually limited. Most don’t cover ABA therapy. We are not asking for a handout and have always paid our way. However, if my son loses Medicaid, he faces possible regression and could lose all the progress he's made thus far.

I am pledging today that you write or call Senator Daines and ask that he reconsider taking away children's Medicaid. There are many other families, just like mine, who will be devastated and will suffer severe consequences. Thank you.

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— Shannon Salmonsen, Butte

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