As the world remembers the work and legacy of Senator Edward Kennedy, many are focused on his work to promote health care for all who need it here in the United States. Some disagreed with his aim, but few could really question the source of his passion. He expressed the passion of a parent whose son is asthmatic. That son, Patrick Kennedy (now a Congressman from Rhode Island) had serious asthma as a child. According to Senator Kennedy, Patrick sometimes had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment. While tending to Patrick and his other sick children (son Teddy was stricken with bone cancer, and Kara had lung cancer), Sen. Kennedy said that he wondered: “What chance does my child have if I can only afford half of the prescribed treatments? Or two thirds? I've sold everything. I've mortgaged as much as possible. No parent should suffer that torment. Not in this country. Not in the richest country in the world.” His family did not face such heartbreaking financial decisions, yet he toiled in the Senate to assure that other parents could get the care they needed for their kids.
While the debate on how to assure this peace of mind for all parents and caregivers of asthmatic and allergic children will continue after his death, Senator Kennedy will be remembered for his passionate leadership that led to the nation’s children’s health program, and strengthening Medicaid for very low income families. At some point in this climate of all talk and little listening, let’s hope that we can proceed to a process that honors the legacy of Senator Kennedy, but more importantly, addresses the pain of parents who cannot care for their sick children because they simply cannot afford it.
Charlotte W. Collins
Published On: August 26, 2009