When a Mississippian sent a message to legislators explaining a problem with insurance coverage for her 8-year-old child’s diabetes medicine and supplies, she was shocked by the response she got from Rep. Jeffrey Guice, R-Ocean Springs.
Guice, a member of the House Public Health and Human Services committee, responded to Nicole Nichols asking if she had considered “buying the supplies with the money that you earn?”
The medicine and supplies amount to thousands of dollars a month, Nichols said in a follow-up response.
Nichols’ husband works as an inventory specialist at a shipping supply company and at nights as a waiter in a restaurant. Nichols, a former hair stylist, quit her job when her younger son was born, and her daughter was diagnosed with diabetes 10 days later, she said.
Guice further responded asking whether insulin was covered by Medicaid.
“Many parents, myself included, have found that while supplies are deemed necessary and technically covered by insurance, we cannot get Medicaid and/or CHIPS (Children’s Health Insurance Program) to pay for them, and suppliers aren’t able to help us,” Nichols wrote.
Nichols posted the emails on Facebook.
“This shows how incredibly out of touch he is with what the majority of Mississippians are going through,” Nichols told Mississippi Today. “We have the highest rate of diabetes in the nation.”
She also noted her family did not receive any other services from the state.
Guice, who participates in the state’s health insurance program, issued a statement Tuesday night through House Information Officer Meg Annison.
“I realize my remarks to Mrs. Nichols were completely insensitive and out of line,” said Guice. “I am sorry and deeply regret my reply. I know nothing about her and her family and replied in a knee-jerk fashion. I’d like to think the people of Mississippi and my constituents know that I’m willing to help where I am able.”
Nichols asked in her email, “Is there someone in the legislature that can and will help these children stay healthy? They must have these medications and supplies which administer the medication in order to remain healthy, and quite honestly, alive!”
Guice wrote a short note back, telling Nichols “I am sorry for your problem. Have you thought about buying the supplies with money that you earn?”
Nichols then responded, telling Guice if she and her husband paid out of pocket for the supplies, the sum would “leave my family of four homeless.” She included a breakdown of her monthly costs, which amounted to thousands of dollars in expenses for her daughter and husband, who also has diabetes.
“Insulin alone amounts to more than my house payment every month,” she said.
According to Guice’s legislative page, he is a member of the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club and is a real estate broker.