Twenty-one should not be the end. For college students like Jordan Stroman, that age should only be the beginning.
Stroman, a junior at the University of Central Florida, has a progressive neuromuscular disease that requires she spend her life attached to a breathing machine and wheelchair. Since she was six, she's suffered through frightening choking episodes. She has two titanium rods in her back holding her spine upright, and she takes her food through a feeding tube.
Her condition requires that she keep a nurse at her attention for 24 hours a day for six days a week and for 16 hours on Sundays. (Her mother drives 70 miles each Sunday to help her through the final six hours.)
But Stroman is about to turn 21. In Florida, that means that Medicaid is about to move her into a different program, one known as the "Aged/Disabled Adult Waiver Aging Out Program," which strives to "ensure the smooth, uninterrupted provision of services necessary for the recipient to maintain the highest practical, emotional, and psychosocial well being while remaining in the home and community."
Simply put, Stroman is about to lose the medical attention she's long received—medical attention that comes out of necessity rather than desire. Beginning on her birthday, June 25, Stroman's nursing attention will be cut from 24 hours a day to 16, a decrease that she believes could bear life-threatening consequences. Despite the high cost of maintaining her current amount of medical attention, it's an expense that Stroman's forced to take on.
Due to her financial limitations, Stroman's now facing a depressing catch 22: Does she pay for college or does she pay for 24-hour nursing assistance? It's a decision someone in her position should never have to make.
On Wednesday, Stroman launched a petition asking Florida lawmakers to maintain skilled nursing care services for disabled young adults after they turn 21. Stroman hopes to receive 15,000 signatures before turning the petition over to the governor of Florida, state health care analysts, and President Barack Obama.
Nearly 3,000 people have signed up since Stroman posted the petition two days ago.
That number is increasing with each reload of the page, but it's safe to say that Stroman's message has fallen on a few-too-many deaf ears.
Her video, "Hey, My Name Is Jordan," posted to YouTube Wednesday, has received over 30,000 views. On Thursday, Stroman's plea made it onto Reddit, where it's already landed on the front page of the subreddit r/videos. That thread has already seen over 379 comments, though many have been focused on debating the ethics behind the United States' health care policies.
Jordan Stroman's case requires a more immediate sense of urgency. She turns 21 years old in just 10 days.
Photo via YouTube