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Updated: 6th January 2019 20:10

Edmonton family wins formula coverage fight

An Edmonton family struggling to pay for the special food their infant needs to survive has won their appeal with Alberta Blue Cross

Mother says problem still exists for other families in Alberta

An Edmonton family struggling to pay for the special food their infant needs to survive has received good news this holiday season.

Lisa Caskenette says Alberta Blue Cross has agreed to cover the special hypoallergenic baby formula her four-month-old son, Isaac, needs.

"I was elated," she said.

"Jumping around, doing Tina Turner across the living room. Tears of joy."

Isaac suffers from necrotizing enterocolitis.

The intestinal disease, which struck Isaac a few weeks after he was born, makes it impossible for the boy to digest dairy products and means he can't be breastfed. 

It also puts a strain on Isaac’s body when digesting food, and could lead to internal bleeding.

His family has been feeding him Neocate, a special kind of formula. The formula cost the family around $1,200 a month, and until recently, wasn’t covered by their insurance.

Caskenette says late last week, a letter from Blue Cross came saying the family’s appeal had been approved and that 80 per cent of Isaac’s formula would be covered.

"We didn’t know if and when we would see the end of it. It has been a huge stress relief for us."

Will still fight for provincial coverage

Caskenette says even though her son’s formula will be paid for, the fight isn’t over. She says six other families in the province are dealing with the same costs.

She says the Alberta government needs to cover special baby formula for medical cases.

"It is food. But it’s not an alternative food. It is the only food," Caskenette said.

"Until they can address that and change legislation to recognize formulas as being medically necessary we're not going to get anywhere."

She plans to continue a petition to get Neocate and similar formulas covered by the province.

She also says with the family’s financial burden lifted, they plan to make donations to the Stollery Children’s Hospital, where Isaac frequently stayed.

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