Marysville Family Serves as an Advocate
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) met with 12-year-old cancer patient Robert Balsiger and his family to discuss the profoundly important role Columbus Children’s Hospital has served in providing him with life-sustaining treatment. The Balsigers traveled to Washington as part of Family Advocacy Day sponsored by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals (NACH).
“While I have long supported the critically important and noble mission of our nation’s network of children’s hospitals, hearing firsthand from Robert is a resoundingly clear reminder that we must never take children’s hospitals for granted,” Pryce said. “Their life-saving work does not happen in a vacuum; the federal investment in ensuring the highest quality care for children must be preserved and protected in our nation’s capital.”
Robert, a resident of Marysville, has been a patient of Columbus Children’s Hospital since March of 2002 when he was diagnosed with Leukemia. Since then, Robert has endured chemotherapy, 22 spinal taps, countless blood draws, EKGs and bone marrow tests. While he is currently in remission, “Robert is an inspiring and feisty advocate for the compassionate care provided at Children’s Columbus,” said Pryce.
On Wednesday, thirty families from around the nation went to Washington to share their stories with Members of Congress as part of Family Advocacy Day. Part of this year’s mission was to impart the importance of Medicaid funding to the care for children in our nation’s children’s hospitals. Robert and Pryce were joined by Robert’s parents, Willy and Theresa.
Pryce has been an effective leader and tireless advocate for children’s hospitals in Washington. This past week, along with Congressman David Hobson (R-Springfield), she was able to secure $1.75 million in the FY07 Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill for two of Columbus Children’s priorities – an intraoperative MRI machine capable of allowing surgeons to fully remove pediatric brain tumors and less of the surrounding tissue, and a Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy research facility; Duchenne’s is the most common form of muscular dystrophy and occurs in approximately one out of 3,500 live male births.
Pryce also led the effort to change a law which prior to 1999, provided physician training funding only to hospitals that treated Medicare patients and thus excluded children’s hospitals. Thanks to her efforts, children’s hospitals now train a large portion of the future pediatric workforce – almost 30% of pediatricians and 50% of pediatric specialists – and received over $300 million in training funding in 2006.