November 21, 2017
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St. Joseph's Children's Hospital Patient Spends Time on Capitol Hill to Urge Congress to Safeguard Medicaid for Kids

St. Joseph's Children's Hospital Patient Spends Time on Capitol Hill to Urge Congress to Safeguard Medicaid for Kids

PR Newswire

TAMPA, Fla., July 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This week, 12-year-old Natalia Ricabal joined nearly 50 other pediatric patients from across the United States on Capitol Hill to urge their members of Congress to protect, not cut, children's Medicaid funding as proposed in recently introduced federal bills, the American Health Care Act of 2017 and the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.

St. Joseph's Children's Hospital patient Natalia Ricabal, age 12, shares her story of battling bone cancer with Congressman Gus Bilirakis during a meeting on Capitol Hill July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Allen, courtesy of Children’s Hospital Association.

Natalia was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in August 2013. Her treatment required multiple surgeries, including a limb salvage procedure in which her femur was replaced with a cadaver bone, a year of aggressive chemotherapy, a month of daily radiation treatment, and substantial physical therapy.

Her family traveled to Washington D.C. as part of the Children's Hospital Association's annual Family Advocacy Day. The July 11-14 trip included one-on-one meetings with U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Dennis Ross, Darren Soto and Senator Bill Nelson; a tour of Washington D.C.; and a celebratory dinner to honor the children and their families.

"Medicaid is a lifeline for Natalia and our family," said Amy Ricabal, Natalia's mother. "We hope that sharing our experiences with having a child with complex medical needs will help policymakers recognize the importance of protecting and preserving current Medicaid funding, coverage and benefits for the 30 million kids like Natalia who rely on it for medical care."

The Ricabals discussed with lawmakers their experiences with having a child with special health care needs and how Florida's Children's Medical Services program provided the coverage and benefits Natalia required to survive the life-threatening diagnosis. Together, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital and the family asked members of Congress to keep children's health care needs, particularly Medicaid coverage for kids, in the forefront when considering reforming our health care system.

"Medicaid is the largest insurer of children in the state of Florida," said Keri Eisenbeis, director of Government Relations for BayCare and St. Joseph's Children's Hospital. "Weakening or undermining this program through arbitrary caps and limitations, runs the risk of restricting care for kids across our community, state and country."

About St. Joseph's Children's Hospital

As Tampa's only dedicated children's hospital, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital is committed to providing everything needed for the health and well-being of children. Part of the BayCare Health System, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital provides more acute medical and surgical pediatric care than all other hospitals in Hillsborough County. From the tiniest baby to the high school quarterback, patients are cared for by doctors who specialize in treating children, in surroundings designed exclusively for kids.

About BayCare Health System

BayCare is a leading not-for-profit health care system that connects individuals and families to a wide range of services at 14 hospitals and hundreds of other convenient locations throughout the Tampa Bay and central Florida regions. Inpatient and outpatient services include acute care, primary care, imaging, laboratory, behavioral health, home care, and wellness. Our mission is to improve the health of all we serve through community-owned, health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. For more information, visit

Twelve-year-old Natalia Ricabal, a patient at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa, meets with Congresswoman Kathy Castor on Capitol Hill July 13, 2017, to discuss health care legislation for children. Photo by Kevin Allen, courtesy of Children’s Hospital Association.

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SOURCE St. Joseph's Children's Hospital

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