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When 'Vent Kids' Can't Go Home, It Costs Washington State Big

Teal Victoria reads to her 3-year-old daughter Kai at their northeast Seattle home. Kai is on a ventilator and is cared for around the clock at home by her mother and her nurses.
Courtesy of seattlepi.com/Joshua Trujillo
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Teal Victoria reads to her 3-year-old daughter Kai at their northeast Seattle home. Kai is on a ventilator and is cared for around the clock at home by her mother and her nurses.

Dozens of young Washington children who are dependent on ventilators could be living at home, but are stuck in expensive hospitals instead.

That's because Medicaid pay for nurses to care for them at home is so low -- about $10 an hour less than the market rate, Seattlepi.com reporter Levi Pulkkinen told KUOW's Jeannie Yandel on The Record.

It actually costs more -- thousands of dollars extra per day per child -- to keep these children in the hospital.

Pulkkinen reported on a lawsuit that aims to force the state to raise the reimbursement rate for nurses. Preliminary arguments are set for Oct. 30. 

Pulkkinen noted that many of these kids are not in a permanent state -- they can expect to be off ventilators at some point.

"A lot of the parents are afraid that they're not preparing their children for life," he said. "They want them to be doing rehabilitation, they want them to be developing relationships with their siblings. And these are things that are very hard to do if you're sitting in a hospital room."

Year started with KUOW: 2006