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Franciscan Children's teen cerebral palsy patient faces uncertain future under Trumpcare

Struggling teen who relies on Medicaid released from Franciscan Children's.

Brandon Smart is a 15-year-old boy from Howland, Maine. He was born prematurely at 28 weeks, declared blind and diagnosed with cerebral palsy before he turned 1. His life has been filled with struggle but also hope. He has spent the last four months at Franciscan Children's to be treated for infected pressure ulcers and broken bones in his legs.

Smart's family and doctors shared their concern with President Trump's proposal to "repeal and replace" Obamacare at a press event on Thursday at the hospital.

"The Smart family has private insurance but relies on federal Medicaid funding to supplement coverage of Brandon’s extensive medical expenses and nursing care," the hospital said in a press release. Medicaid would be cut under Trump's proposal.

Treatment for Brandon is difficult in Maine with the complexity of his condition, his doctors said. Transportation to the hospital and therapy to strengthen him is a complex issue. The type of care for children with long-term mental and physical disabilities that Franciscan Children's provides is unique in the Boston area and the US, said John Nash, president and CEO of Franciscan Children's, and Smart's doctor, Elisabeth Schainker. 

When Obamacare was enacted, it added money to Medicaid, but for adults, not children. A large proportion of Franciscan Children's patients, about 70 percent, are on Medicaid. Their treatment, therapy and care are expensive, and even with a charitable hospital, such as Franciscan Children's, any cut to the Medicaid budget would negatively impact children, doctors from Franciscan Children's said at the event.