Barbourville teen pleads to U.S. Senators to ‘do right by these children’

A local teen recently traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for kids’ healthcare, a cause that is near and dear to her own heart.

Nine million children in low income families across the nation rely on programs such as CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) for free health insurance or health insurance with copays. Cailin McDonald, a sophomore at Barbourville Independent and local missionary, is one of those kids.

“We’re (the McDonald family) nonprofit missionaries and we are completely faith based so all our money comes from donations. Our income fluctuates a lot and it’s always relatively low. Programs like CHIP help us keep the ministry alive,” said McDonald.

When McDonald learned the September 30 deadline for Congress to vote on the 2018 CHIP funding had passed with no results, she jumped at the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and help the cause.

“There’s a nonprofit children’s advocacy group in Washington called First Focus and they reached out to a program I’m in called Promising Appalachian Leaders in Service, which is a teen leadership group that focuses on advocacy and community service,” said McDonald. “So, they reached out to us and they asked for a youth to come and speak.”

McDonald received the email from First Focus asking for a youth volunteer to speak to Congress on Wednesday, December 13. She replied that night confirming she could speak and was on a plane the following Monday.

McDonald and her family were flown to Washington D.C. with all expenses paid. McDonald stood before Congress on Tuesday, December 19 and told her story.

“Although our story sounds out of the ordinary, it really isn’t. There are parents all over the country who are working in missions or non-profits who may not make enough to provide health insurance for their children. How can we expect for people like this to help us when we don’t provide them help in return?” asked McDonald to Congress.

“If CHIP is no longer funded it would have detrimental effects on not only my family but thousands of others. In Kentucky alone, 93,000 children rely on CHIP as their source of health insurance. I know that Congress can do right by these children by reauthorizing the funding for CHIP.”

According to McDonald, Congress bought themselves some time by creating a bill on December 21 that will provide for the program’s funding for approximately three more months; however, a formal solution has yet to be reached.