West Oahu family banking on health care reform - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

West Oahu family banking on health care reform

Kyra Furukawa Kyra Furukawa
Tracy Furukawa Tracy Furukawa
Alan Furukawa Alan Furukawa

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

MAKAKILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Health care reform is just a signature away from becoming official.

On Tuesday, President Obama will sign adjustments made to the bill.

What's not changing is insurance for kids with pre-existing conditions.

One family in West Oahu is hoping that provision kicks in soon for the sake of their daughter.

But a mix-up in the language of the health care bill may mean delays.

Seeing her today, you'd never guess that just last year, Kyra Furukawa of Makakilo was in so much pain, she could no longer walk.

The 5-year-old suffers from juvenile dermatomyositis, a rare condition where the immune system attacks the muscles.

Her first episode was last April. In the middle of Kyra's seven-month-long road to recovery, Kyra's parents hit an insurance crisis.

"By October 1st, she was denied coverage for physical therapy and occupational therapy," said Tracy Furukawa, Kyra's mom.

The Furukawa's say they had to fight for coverage, and managed to win a few more therapy sessions.

But they weren't enough, so Kyra's parents ended up paying for some sessions out-of-pocket.

That's why they're banking on the health care reform bill.

Their daughter's disorder is one Kyra will have for the rest of her life and another flare-up can strike at any time.

"That's why it is so important to have something that can protect somebody like Kyra to get the necessary means to have a somewhat normal life. Someday she'll be a taxpayer, someday she'll be paying for her own insurance and hopefully this bill will help when she needs it," said Alan Furukawa, Kyra's father.

Under the new law, insurance companies cannot deny coverage for children with pre-existing ailments.

But insurance companies say, the way its worded, they don't actually have to abide by that until 2014.

Republicans blast Democrats for the botched language in the bill.

"Children will not get the coverage they were promised. This is the inevitable result of a closed, partisan process," said CA Rep. David Dreier, a Republican.

"It's a little bit scary because something could happen in 2011, 2012, 2013. At any point in time, insurance can say, we're not going to cover her," said Kyra's mom.

The White House on Monday, rushed to send out a letter to the insurance industry, to clarify the bill so children like Kyra can get coverage as soon as possible.


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