A struggling Texas couple is considering getting a divorce in order to fund their disabled daughter’s medical care. Unable to pay the medical bills associated with caring for their eldest daughter, Brighton, military vet Jake Grey figured that if his wife was listed on paper as single and unemployed, she’d be able to qualify for Medicaid.
Brighton suffers from a genetic chromosomal disorder called Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome and requires extensive medical care. “When you have a newborn everything gets really stressful and you have to really adapt to somebody needing you 24/7… we’ve had a newborn for six and a half years,” Maria explained to WFAA. The mother-of-two said the financial pressure became unbearable as the couple slipped through the gap of healthcare coverage.
With every new piece of mail came a fresh dose of fear. “I was scared of what would come or what bill would come or what denial would come,” she said. It may seem extreme, but the couple insist that their daughter’s health must be a priority, even if this results in the sacrifice of their marriage.
“We promised each other and to her that we would do whatever we could do to make her life – however long she is going to be with us – as good as possible,” Maria explained, adding that they “wouldn’t have made it this far without each other.”
“I can’t imagine going through what we’ve been through with anybody else,” Jake added. According to the couple, 30 percent of the Jake’s $40,000 income goes toward their daughters’ medical care. The couple noted that they fork out an additional $15,000 each year, as Jake’s wage disqualifies them from Medicaid. They also explained to the news outlet that they are on the waiting list for state assistance, but that they are currently number 59,979 in the queue.
“We just have struggled and struggled with it. I guess now we’ve gotten to the point where we feel like (divorce) is a real possibility,” Jake explained. “For someone to make you choose between your marriage and your child is just — it’s a really weird spot to be in.”
“For a family like this, they really are in a tough spot,” said Dr. Thad Miller, a health care policy expert at the University of North Texas. Miller noted that this was the first time he’d seen a couple be driven to divorce as a result of rising medical costs. “I think it speaks to our need to really re-think what we do and how – especially for the most vulnerable,” he added.