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Remarks by Stephen Smith , opposing privatization of health coverage for foster kids, at the Foster Care Hearing on HB 2010 in January of 2019.

“My name is Stephen Smith, and I am a foster parent of a five year-old son. He’ll walk up to anyone and give them a hug and a kiss. This Saturday at Kroger, he must have hugged 4 total strangers. It’s not that he’s outgoing. He bounced through 4 foster homes in 3 months. He hugs everyone he sees because he’s learned he can’t be sure where the next reliable hug is coming from.

“My wife Sara and I worry daily. Are we giving him enough discipline? Are we giving him too much? Have we put too great a burden on our biological son? Being a foster parent is the hardest thing my wife and I have ever done. Meanwhile we must also navigate 8 separate people with 8 separate interests along the way: a DHHR worker, CHS worker, a Guardian ad Litem, a Judge, two attorneys, a CASA worker, and a prosecutor. Those folks are necessary, but now you want to add a 9th person, an insurance claims person, whose job depends on making his insurance company more money.

When they tried this in Texas, the insurance company denied 10 doctor recommended treatments per day. Thousands of formal complaints were lodged – by nurses, by parents, by judges, and even by employees of the insurance company about inadequate services. When they tried it in Kentucky, they found that the main way the company made its money was by reducing the output of behavioral health services.

“My son doesn’t need less care. He needs more. My wife and I don’t need more bureaucracy. We need less. Chairman Ellington, please don’t make it harder on us and your constituents in Mercer. Vice-Chairman Hill, please don’t make it harder on the families in Nicholas. Speaker Hanshaw, Senate President Carmichael, please don’t make it harder on all of us and our 6700 children.

“This is the oldest story in West Virginia politics. David versus Goliath. In this case, David is the 6700 most vulnerable little souls in our state. There are no high-priced lobbyists on our side, just charities and foster parents missing work today. We can’t offer you big campaign donations like our opponents have. We just hope you’ll ask yourself why this plan that’s supposed to benefit foster kids has a small army of foster parents opposing it with all our might? And remember: David wins in the end.”

See some of our plans to address this here: