When I first heard a father wanted Medicaid to pay for his daughter’s diapers, I had the reaction most of you probably did. Here we go again.
But this story is much more detailed – and infinitely sadder – than some guy just trying to get what he can get. Floyd Smith is a widow with four kids and no job. And those diapers? They’re not for a baby.
Smith’s eldest daughter, a sixteen-year-old has both cerebral palsy and mental retardation. She can’t be potty-trained. This is a life-long state for her. And it’s one that is costing her father $200 a month.
He’s been out of a job since being laid off around the time his wife got sick in 2007. Until that point, Mom was the breadwinner while Floyd’s job as a waiter brought in some extra cash. With a sick wife and four kids, Floyd wasn’t able to get another job. He now works thirty-three hours a week doing community service in order to qualify for the benefits that keep him and the children afloat.
Florida is one of several states that won’t cover diapers as a medical cost, and it’s not just cramping the family’s lifestyle. Smith said it’s put him at a point where he has to choose between food or diapers.
The state’s answer? Sharett could be institutionalized, where they’d pay for her care. That’s the answer they give a father struggling to keep his family together? I understand families who have made that particularly difficult choice because they thought it was best for their kids, but it’s not best for all kids. And the bigger issue here is whether diapers qualify as medical supplies.
The state says no. As a parent who is very fortunate to be past the potty training phase, I beg to differ. Incontinence that lasts past four or maybe even five would send any of us to the pediatrician, would it not? Maybe they’d prefer we send them a diaper for proof. Anyone game?