Many foundations have spokespersons who represent well the organization, yet may have no first-hand experience of the disease or birth defect such foundation represents. Not so with the new spokesperson representing the WCF. Stacy Keach, or Papa Titus as many know him today from television, has accepted the position of spokesperson for the WCF. The fortune of his representation is that, born with cleft lip and partial cleft of the hard palate, he understands the need for children with facial deformities to be given the opportunity of correcting the deformity through medical treatment.
“Nothing prepares a parent for the shock of a child born with a facial deformity,” explained Stacy. “Nevertheless, my parents did what they had to do to correct the birth defect. I had four surgeries as a young child, beginning at the tender age of six months and continuing until I was age 4. There was no medical insurance available and the financial burden was overwhelming. My father was a drama teacher at Armstrong Junior College in Savannah, Georgia. My mother wasn’t working at the time. By the grace of God, my maternal grandfather was able to help my parents make ends meet. Quite frankly, I don’t know what my parents would have done without his help.”
Washington DC: Actor Stacy Keach, born with a cleft lip and partial cleft palatte, Honorary Chairman of the American Cleft Palatte Foundation for the past 6 years, is working with Senator John McCain (R-Ariz) and the American Society Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) in an effort to pass legislation requiring insurance companies to cover reconstructive surgical procedures for those children with congenital or developmental deformities, diseases or injuries.
At present, insurance companies and HMO’s define repair to craniofacial deformities as “cosmetic” rather than “reconstructive”, thereby avoiding coverage of medical costs.
Senator John McCain and his wife Cindy traveled to Bangladesh in 1991 to help victims of a cyclone, and returned to the USA with a beautiful 10-week old girl named Bridget, who was born with a cleft palate and cleft lip. Insurance agencies denied medical coverage to the McCains, who spent $40,000 out-of-pocket to cover medical expenses.
“It is criminal”, Keach says, “that every child born with a facial anomaly is deprived of the possibility of a normal appearance, normal speech, and a normal life because of insurance company greed. Imagine being the parent of a child born with a cleft palatte and being told that your health insurance will not cover the medical surgery. For most families, this would be an economic catastrophe!”
In October of last year, Sen. McCain and Sen Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced the Treatment for Child Deformites Act in the Senate. The Bill is currently awaiting action by the Senate, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.