Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

Blog: Tony's pediatrician is no longer the ER

This week, for the first time in his life, five-year-old Tony Johnson got health insurance.  So did his three older siblings. Now their parents, Paula and Ron, can take them to the well-child and dental visits they’ve been missing, and the Johnsons can begin getting out of the medical debt they’ve fallen into.

This is a happy ending to the health care rollercoaster ride the Johnsons have been on since last December. As we reported earlier, Paula Johnson applied for Apple Health coverage for her kids and learned they would be covered starting in January, when the program was due to start accepting families up to 300 percent of the poverty level. But then, because of the state’s budget crisis, that coverage was suspended.

With the help of passage of federal Children’s Health Insurance Program legislation in February, the state legislature was able to reinstate the program, keeping the state on track to cover every child in the state by 2010.

When Paula Johnson received an email from an outreach worker telling her the good news, “I started crying,” she said. “I can't believe it. I'm so happy.”